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O&eorg UMfjelm ifrtebrtcf) i^cgel 

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THIS distinguished German philosopher was born at Stuttgart 
in 1770, was educated at the University of Tubingen, occu- 
pied university chairs at Jena, Heidelberg, and Berlin, and 
died of cholera in 1831. His "Philosophy of History" may be 
considered the greatest of his works because of the great and far- 
reaching influence it has had upon European political and economic 

















" The History of the World is not intelligible apart from a 
Government of the World." — W. V. HUMBOLDT 

Copyright, t<>oo, nv 


HEGEL'S Lectures on the Philosophy of History are rec- 
ognized in Germany as a popular introduction to his 
system; their form is less rigid than the generality 
of metaphysical treatises, and the illustrations, which occupy 
a. large proportion of the work, are drawn from a field of obser- 
vation more familiar perhaps, than any other, to those who 
have not devoted much time to metaphysical studies. One 
great value of the work is that it presents the leading facts of 
history from an altogether novel point of view. And when 
it is considered that the writings of Hegel have exercised a 
marked influence on the political movements of Germany, it will 
be admitted that his theory of the universe, especially that part 
which bears directly upon politics, deserves attention even from 
those who are the most exclusive advocates of the " practical." 

A writer who has established his claim to be regarded as an 
authority, by the life which he has infused into metaphysical 
abstractions, has pronounced the work before us, " one of the 
pleasantest books on the subject he ever read." * 

And compared with that of most German writers, even the 
style may claim to be called vigorous and pointed. If therefore 
in its English dress the " Philosophy of History " should be 
found deficient in this respect, the fault must not be attributed 
to the original. 

It has been the aim of the translator to present his author 
to the public in a really English form, even at the cost of a 
circumlocution which must sometimes do injustice to the merits 
of the original. A few words however have nee ssarily been 
used in a rather unusual sense; and one of them is of very 
frequent occurrence. The German " Geist," in Hegel's nomen- 
clature, includes both intelligence and will, the latter even 
more expressly than the former. It embraces in fact man's 

*Mr. G. H. Lewes, in his Biographical History of Philosophy, Vol. 
IV., Ed. 1841. 

Vol. 23 A— Classics 



entire mental and moral being, and a little reflection will make 
it obvious that no term in our metaphysical vocabulary could 
have been well substituted for the more theological one, 
" Spirit," as a fair equivalent. It is indeed only the impersonal 
and abstract use of the term that is open to objection ; an objec- 
tion which can be met by an appeal to the best classical usage ; 
viz. the rendering of the Hebrew rni and Greek irvevfia in the 
authorized version of the Scriptures. One indisputable in- 
stance may suffice in confirmation : " Their horses [i.e. of the 
Egyptians] are flesh and not spirit." (Isaiah xxxi. 3.) It is 
pertinent to remark here, that the comparative disuse of this 
term in English metaphysical literature, is one result of that 
alienation of theology from philosophy with which continental 
writers of the most opposite schools agree in taxing the specu- 
lative genius of Britain — an alienation which mainly accounts 
for the gulf separating English from German speculation, and 
which will, it is feared, on other accounts also be the occasion 
of communicating a somewhat uninviting aspect to the follow- 
ing pages. 

The distinction which the Germans make between " Sittlich- 
keit " and " Moralitat," has presented another difficulty. The 
former denotes conventional morality, the latter that of the 
heart or conscience. Where no ambiguity was likely to arise, 
both terms have been translated " morality." In other cases 
a stricter rendering has been given, modified by the require- 
ments of the context. The word " moment " is, as readers of 
German philosophy are aware, a veritable crux to the translator. 
In Mr. J. R. Morell's very valuable edition of Johnson's Trans- 
lation of Tennemann's " Manual of the History of Philosophy," 
the following explanation is given : " This term was bor- 
rowed from mechanics by Hegel (see his " Wissenschaft der 
Logik," Vol. 3, P. 104, Ed. 1841). He employs it to de- 
note the contending forces which are mutually dependent, 
and whose contradiction forms an equation. Hence his 
formula, Esse = Nothing. Here Esse and Nothing are mo- 
mentums, giving birth to Werden, i.e. Existence. Thus the 
momentum contributes to the same oneness of operation in con- 
tradictory forces that we see in mechanics, amidst contrast and 
diversity, in weight and distance, in the case of the balance." 
But in several parts of the work before us this definition is not 
strictly adhered to, and the translator believes he has done 


justice to the original in rendering the word by " successive " 
or " organic phase." In the chapter on the Crusades another 
term occurs which could not be simply rendered into English. 
The definite, positive, and present embodiment of essential 
being is there spoken of as " ein Dieses," " das Dieses," etc., 
literally " a This," " the This," for which repulsive combination 
a periphrasis has been substituted, which, it is believed, is not 
only accurate but expository. Paraphrastic additions, however, 
have been, in fairness to the reader, enclosed in brackets [ ] ; 
and the philosophical appropriation of ordinary terms is gen- 
erally indicated by capitals, e.g. " Spirit," " Freedom," " State," 
" Nature," etc. 

The limits of a brief preface preclude, an attempt to explain 
the Hegelian method in its wider applications ; and such an 
undertaking is rendered altogether unnecessary by the facilities 
which are afforded by works so very accessible as the transla- 
tion of Tennemann above mentioned, Chalybseus's " Historical 
Development of Speculative Philosophy, from Kant to Hegel," 
Blakey's " History of the Philosophy of Mind," Mr. Lewes's 
" Biographical History of Philosophy," besides treatises de- 
voted more particularly to the Hegelian philosophy. Among these 
latter may be fairly mentioned the work of a French professor, 
M. Vera, " Introduction a la Philosophic de Hegel," a lucid and 
earnest exposition of the system at large ; and the very able 
summary of Hegel's " Philosophy of Right," by T. C. Sandars, 
late fellow of Oriel College, which forms one of the series of 
" Oxford Essays " for 1855, an d which bears directly on the 
subject of the present volume. 

It may, nevertheless, be of some service to the reader to indi- 
cate the point of view from which this " Philosophy of History " 
is composed, and to explain the leading idea. 

The aim and scope of that civilizing process which all hopeful 
thinkers recognize in history, is the attainment of Rational 
Freedom. But the very term freedom supposes a previous 
bondage ; and "the question naturally arises : " Bondage to 
what? " — A superficial inquirer may be satisfied with an answer 
referring it to the physical power of the ruling body. Such a 
response was deemed satisfactory by a large number of political 
speculators in the last century, and even at the beginning of 
the present; and it is one of the great merits of an influential 
thinker of our days to have expelled this idolum fori, which 


had also become an idolum theatri, from its undue position ; 
and to have revived the simple truth that all stable organizations 
of men, all religious and political communities, are based upon 
principles which are far beyond the control of the One or the 
Many. And in these principles or some phase of them every 
man in every clime and age is born, lives and moves. The 
only question is : Whence are those principles derived ? Whence 
spring those primary beliefs or superstitions, religious and polit- 
ical, that hold society together? They are no inventions of 
" priestcraft " or " kingcraft," for to them priestcraft and king- 
craft owe their power. They are no results of a Contrat Social, 
for with them society originates. Nor are they the mere sug- 
gestions of man's weakness, prompting him to propitiate the 
powers of nature, in furtherance of his finite, earthborn desires. 
Some of the phenomena of the religious systems that have pre- 
vailed in the world might seem thus explicable ; but the Nihil- 
ism of more than one Oriental creed, the suicidal strivings of 
the Hindoo devotee to become absorbed in a divinity recognized 
as a pure negation, cannot be reduced to so gross a formula ; 
while the political superstition that ascribes a divine right to 
the feebleness of a woman or an infant is altogether untouched 
by it. Nothing is left therefore but to recognize them as " fan- 
cies," " delusions," " dreams," the results of man's vain imagi- 
nation — to class them with the other absurdities with which the 
abortive past of humanity is by some thought to be only too 
replete ; or, on the other hand, to regard them as the rudimen 
tary teachings of that essential intelligence in which man's 
intellectual and moral life originates. With Hegel they are the 
objective manifestation of infinite reason — the first promptings 
of Him who having " made of one blood all nations of men for 
to dwell on the face of the earth, hath determined the times be- 
fore appointed, and the bounds of their habitation, if haply they 
might feel after and find him " — tov yhp ical <yei>os tafiev. And 
it is these icaipoi irpoTeTcuyp.kvoi,, these determined and organic 
epochs in the history of the world that Hegel proposes to dis- 
tinguish and develop in the following treatise. 

Whatever view may be entertained as to the origin or impor- 
tance of those elementary principles, and by whatever general 
name they may be called — Spontaneous, Primary, or Objective 
Intelligence — it seems demonstrable that it is in some sense or 
other to its own belief, its own reason or essential being, that 


imperfect humanity is in bondage; while the perfection of 
social existence is commonly regarded as a deliverance from 
that bondage. In the Hegelian system, this paradoxical condi- 
tion is regarded as one phase of that antithesis which is pre- 
sented in all spheres of existence, between the subjective and 
the objective, but which it is the result of the natural and intel- 
lectual processes that constitute the life of the universe, to annul 
by merging into one absolute existence. And however startling 
this theory may be as applied to other departments of nature 
and intelligence, it appears to be no unreasonable formula for 
the course of civilization, and which is substantially as follows : 
In less cultivated nations, political and moral restrictions are 
looked upon as objectively posited ; the constitution of society, 
like the world of natural objects, is regarded as something into 
which a man is inevitably born ; and the individual feels himself 
bound to comply with requirements of whose justice or pro- 
priety he is not allowed to judge, though they often severely test 
his endurance, and even demand the sacrifice of his life. In 
a state of high civilization, on the contrary, though an equal 
self-sacrifice be called for, it is in respect of laws and institutions 
which are felt to be just and desirable. This change of relation 
may, without any very extraordinary use of terms, or extrava- 
gance of speculative conceit, be designated the harmonization 
or reconciliation of objective and subjective intelligence. The 
successive phases which humanity has assumed in passing from 
that primitive state of bondage to this condition of rational 
freedom form the chief subject of the following lectures. 

The mental and moral condition of individuals and their social 
and religious conditions (the subjective and objective mani- 
festations of reason) exhibit a strict correspondence with each 
other in every grade of progress. " They that make them are 
like unto them," is as true of religious and political ideas as 
of religious and political idols. Where man sets no value on 
that part of his mental and moral life which makes him superior 
to the brutes, brute life will be an object of worship and bestial 
sensuality will be the genius of the ritual. Where mere inaction 
is the finis bonorum, absorption in nothingness will be the aim 
of the devotee. Where, on the contrary, active and vigorous 
virtue is recognized as constituting the real value of man — 
where subjective spirit has learned to assert its own freedom, 
both against irrational and unjust requirements from without, 

viii HEGEL 

and caprice, passion, and sensuality, from within, it will demand 
a living, acting, just, and holy, embodiment of Deity as the only 
possible object of its adoration. In the same degree, political 
principles also will be affected. Where mere nature predomi- 
nates, no legal relations will be acknowledged but those based 
on natural distinction ; rights will be inexorably associated with 
" caste." Where, on the other hand, spirit has attained its 
freedom, it will require a code of laws and political constitu- 
tion, in which the rational subordination of nature to reason 
that prevails in its own being, and the strength it feels to resist 
sensual seductions shall be distinctly mirrored. 

Between the lowest and highest grades of intelligence and 
will, there are several intervening stages, around which a com- 
plex of derivative ideas, and of institutions, arts, and sciences, 
in harmony with them, are aggregated. Each of these aggre- 
gates has acquired a name in history as a distinct nationality. 
Where the distinctive principle is losing its vigor, as the result 
of the expansive force of mind of which it was only the tempo- 
rary embodiment, the national life declines, and we have the 
transition to a higher grade, in which a comparatively abstract 
and limited phase of subjective intelligence and will — to which 
corresponds an equally imperfect phase of objective reason — 
is exchanged for one more concrete, and vigorous — one which 
develops human capabilities more freely and fully, and in which 
right is more adequately comprehended. 

The goal of this contention is, as already indicated, the self- 
realization, the complete development of spirit, whose proper 
nature is freedom — freedom in both senses of the term, i.e. lib- 
eration from outward control — inasmuch as the law to which it 
submits has its own explicit sanction — and emancipation from 
the inward slavery of lust and passion. 

The above remarks are not designed to afford anything like 
a complete or systematic analysis of Hegel's " Philosophy of 
History," but simply to indicate its leading conception, and if 
possible to contribute something towards removing a prejudice 
against it on the score of its resolving facts into mystical para- 
doxes, or attempting to construe them a priori. In applying 
the theory, some facts may not improbably have been distorted, 
some brought into undue prominence, and others altogether 
neglected. In the most cautious and limited analysis of the 
past, failures and perversions of this kind are inevitable : and 


a comprehensive view of history is proportionately open to 
mistake. But it is another question whether the principles ap- 
plied in this work to explain the course which civilization has 
followed, are a correct inference from historical facts, and 
afford a reliable clue to the explanation of their leading aspects. 
The translator would remark, in conclusion, that the " In- 
troduction " will probably be found the most tedious and diffi- 
cult part of the treatise ; he would therefore suggest a cursory 
reading of it in the first instance, and a second perusal as a 
resume of principles which are more completely illustrated in 
the body of the work. 

J. Sibree. 


THE changed form in which Hegel's lectures on the Phi- 
losophy of History are re-issued, suggests the necessity 
of some explanation respecting the relation of this sec- 
ond edition both to the original materials from which the work 
was compiled, and to their first publication. 

The lamented Professor Gans, the editor of the " Philosophy 
of History," displayed a talented ingenuity in transforming 
lectures into a book; in doing so he followed for the most 
part Hegel's latest deliveries of the course, because they were 
the most popular, and appeared most adapted to his object. 

He succeeded in presenting the lectures much as they were 
delivered in the winter of 1830-31 ; and this result might be 
regarded as perfectly satisfactory, if Hegel's various readings 
of the course had been more uniform and concordant, if indeed 
they had not rather been of such a nature as to supplement each 
other. For however great may have been Hegel's power of con- 
densing the wide extent of the phenomenal world by thought, 
it was impossible for him entirely to master and to present in a 
uniform shape the immeasurable material of history in the 
course of one semester. In the first delivery in the winter of 
1822-23, he was chiefly occupied with unfolding the philosoph- 
ical idea, and showing how this constitutes the real kernel of 
history, and the impelling soul of world-historical peoples. 
In proceeding to treat of China and India, he wished, as he said 
himself, only to show by example how philosophy ought to 
comprehend the character of a nation ; and this could be done 
more easily in the case of the stationary nations of the East, 
than in that of peoples which have a bond fide history and a 
historical development of character. A warm predilection made 
him linger long with the Greeks, for whom he always felt a 
youthful enthusiasm; and after a brief consideration of the 
Roman World he endeavored finally to condense the Mediaeval 
Period and the Modern Time into a few lectures; for time 


xii HEGEL 

pressed, and when, as in the Christian World, the thought no 
longer lies concealed among the multitude of phenomena, but 
announces itself and is obviously present in history, the philos- 
opher is at liberty to abridge his discussion of it ; in fact, nothing 
more is needed than to indicate the impelling idea. In the 
later readings, on the other hand, China, India, and the East 
generally were more speedily despatched, and more time and 
attention devoted to the German World. By degrees the philo- 
sophical and abstract occupied less space, the historical matter 
was expanded, and the whole became more popular. 

It is easy to see how the different readings of the course 
supplement each other, and how the entire substance cannot 
be gathered without uniting the philosophical element which 
predominates in the earlier, and which must constitute the basis 
of the work, with the historical expansion which characterizes 
the latest deliveries. 

Had Hegel pursued the plan which most professors adopt, in 
adapting notes for use in the lecture room, of merely appending 
emendations and additions to the original draught, it would be 
correct to suppose that his latest readings would be also the 
most matured. But as, on the contrary, every delivery was with 
him a new act of thought, each gives only the expression of that 
degree of philosophical energy which animates his mind at the 
time; thus, in fact, the two first deliveries of 1822-23 and 1824- 
25, exhibit a far more comprehensive vigor of idea and ex- 
pression, a far richer store of striking thoughts and appropriate 
images, than those of later date ; for that first inspiration which 
accompanied the thoughts when they first sprang into existence, 
could only lose its living freshness by repetition. 

From what has been said, the nature of the task which a 
new edition involved is sufficiently manifest. A treasury of 
thought of no trifling value had to be recovered from the first 
readings, and the tone of originality restored to the whole. The 
printed text therefore was made the basis, and the work of 
inserting, supplementing, substituting, and transforming (as 
the case seemed to require), was undertaken with the greatest 
possible respect for the original. No scope was left for the 
individual views of the editor, since in all such alterations 
Hegel's manuscripts were the sole guide. For while the first 
publication of these lectures — a part of the introduction ex- 
cepted — followed the notes of the hearers only, the second edi- 


tion has endeavored to supplement it by making Hegel's own 
manuscripts the basis throughout, and using the notes only for 
the purpose of rectification and arrangement. The editor has 
striven after uniformity of tone through the whole work simply 
by allowing the author to speak everywhere in his own words ; 
so that not only are the new insertions taken verbatim from the 
manuscripts, but even where the printed text was retained in 
the main, peculiar expressions which the hearer had lost in 
transcription, were restored. 

For the benefit of those who place vigor of thought in a for- 
mal schematism, and with polemical zeal assert its exclusive 
claim against other styles of philosophizing, the remark may 
be added that Hegel adhered so little to the subdivisions which 
he had adopted, that he made some alterations in them on occa- 
sion of every reading of the course — treated Buddhism and 
Lamaism, e.g., sometimes before, sometimes after India, some- 
times reduced the Christian World more closely to the German 
nations, sometimes took in the Byzantine Empire, and so on. 
The new edition has had but few alterations to make in this 

When the association for publishing Hegel's works did me 
the honor to intrust me with the re-editing of my father's 
" Philosophy of History," it also named as advocates of the 
claims of the first edition, and as representatives of Professor 
Gans, who had been removed from its circle by death, three of 
its members, Geh. Ober-Regierungs Rath Dr. Schulze, Professor 
von Henning, and Professor Hotho, to whose revision the work 
in its new shape was to be submitted. In this revision, I not 
only enjoyed the acquiescence of those most estimable men and 
valued friends in the alterations I had made, but also owe them 
a debt of thanks for many new emendations, which I take the 
opportunity of thus publicly discharging. 

In conclusion, I feel constrained to acknowledge that my 
gratitude to that highly respected association for the praise- 
worthy deed of love to science, friendship, and disinterested- 
ness, whose prosecution originated it and still holds it together, 
could be increased only by the fact of its having granted me also 
a share in editing the works of my beloved father. 

Charles Hegel. 




I. Original History I 

II. Reflective History 4 

III. Philosophical History 8 

Geographical Basis of History 79 

Classification of Historic Data 103 

PART I.— The Oriental World 

Principle of the Oriental World in 

Section I. China 116 

Section II. India 139 

Section II. Continued. India — Buddhism 167 

Section III. Persia 173 

Chapter I. The Zend People 176 

Chapter II. The Assyrians, Babylonians, Medes, and Per- 
sians 182 

Chapter III. The Persian Empire and its Constituent Parts. . . . 187 

Persia 188 

Syria and Semitic Western Asia 191 

Judaea 195 

Egypt 198 

Transition to the Greek World 219 

PART II.— The Greek World 

The Region of Spirit 223 

Section I. The Elements of the Greek Spirit 225 

Section II. Phases of Individuality iEsthetically Conditioned.. 241 

Chapter I. The Subjective Work of Art 241 

Chapter II. The Objective Work of Art 244 

Chapter III. The Political Work of Art 250 

The War with the Persians 256 

Athens 258 

Sparta 262 

The Peloponnesian War 265 

The Macedonian Empire 271 

Section III. 'Fall of the Greek Spirit 275 


xvi HEGEL 

PART III.— The Roman World 


Distinction between the Roman, Persian, and Greek Principle 278 

Section I. Rome to the Time of the Second Punic War 283 

Chapter I. The Elements of the Roman Spirit 283 

Chapter II. History of Rome to the Second Punic War 296 

Section II. Rome from the Second Punic War to the Emperors . 306 

Section III. Chapter I. Rome under the Emperors 314 

Chapter II. Christianity 318 

Chapter III. The Byzantine Empire 336 

PART IV.— The German World 

The Principle of Spiritual Freedom 341 

Section I. The Elements of the Christian German World 347 

Chapter I. The Barbarian Migrations 347 

Chapter II. Mahometanism 355 

Chapter III. The Empire of Charlemagne 360 

Section II. The Middle Ages 366 

Chapter I. The Feudality and the Hierarchy 366 

Chapter II. The Crusade 389 

Chapter III. The Transition from Feudalism to Monarchy 398 

Section III. The Modern Time 412 

Chapter I. The Reformation 412 

Chapter II. Influence of the Reformation on Political Develop- 
ment 427 

Chapter III. The Eclair cissement and Revolution 438 



THE subject of this course of Lectures is the Philosophical 
History of the World. And by this must be understood, 
not a collection of general observations respecting it, 
suggested by the study of its records, and proposed to be illus- 
trated by its facts, but Universal History itself.* To gain a 
clear idea, at the outset, of the nature of our task, it seems 
necessary to begin with an examination of the other methods 
of treating History. The various methods may be ranged 
under three heads : 

I. Original Histopy. 
II. Reflective History. 
III. Philosophical History. 

I. Of the first kind, the mention of one or two distinguished 
names will furnish a definite type. To this category belong 
Herodotus, Thucydides, and other historians of the same order, 
whose descriptions are for the most part limited to deeds, events, 
and states of society, which they had before their eyes, and 
whose spirit they shared. They simply transferred what was 
passing in the world around them, to the realm of representa- 
tive intellect. An external phenomenon is thus translated into 
an internal conception. In the same way the poet operates upon 
the material supplied him by his emotions; projecting it into 
an image for the conceptive faculty. These original historians 
did, it is true, find statements and narratives of other men ready 
to hand. One person cannot be an eye or ear witness of every- 
thing. But they make use of such aids only as the poet does 
of that heritage of an already-formed language, to which he 
owes so much ; merely as an ingredient. Historiographers 

* I cannot mention any work that will a Universal History as it is proposed to 

serve as a compendium of the course, develop, and a syllabus of the chief ele- 

but I may remark that in my " Outlines ments or periods into which it naturally 

of the Philosophy of Law," §§ 341-360, I divides itself. 
have already given a definition of such 


bind together the fleeting elements of story, and treasure them 
up for immortality in the Temple of Mnemosyne. Legends, 
Ballad-stories, Traditions, must be excluded from such original 
history. These are but dim and hazy forms of historical ap- 
prehension, and therefore belong to nations whose intelligence 
is but half awakened. Here, on the contrary, we have to do with 
people fully conscious of what they were and what they were 
about. The domain of reality — actually seen, or capable of 
being so — affords a very different basis in point of firmness 
from that fugitive and shadowy element, in which were engen- 
dered those legends and poetic dreams whose historical prestige 
vanishes, as soon as nations have attained a mature individ- 

Such original historians, then, change the events, the deeds, 
and the states of society with which they are conversant, into 
an object for the conceptive faculty. The narratives they 
leave us cannot, therefore, be very comprehensive in their range. 
Herodotus, Thucydides, Guicciardini, may be taken as fair 
samples of the class in this respect. What is present and living 
in their environment is their proper material. The influences 
that have formed the writer are identical with those which have 
moulded the events that constitute the matter of his story. The 
author's spirit, and that of the actions he narrates, is one and 
the same. He describes scenes in which he himself has been an 
actor, or at any rate an interested spectator. It is short periods 
of time, individual shapes of persons and occurrences, single, 
unreflected traits, of which he makes his picture. And his aim 
is nothing more than the presentation to posterity of an image 
of events as clear as that which he himself possessed in virtue 
of personal observation, or life-like descriptions. Reflections 
are none of his business, for he lives in the spirit of his subject ; 
he has not attained an elevation above it. If, as in Caesar's case, 
he belongs to the exalted rank of generals or statesmen, it is 
the prosecution of his own aims that constitutes the history. 

Such speeches as we find in Thucydides (for example) of 
which we can positively assert that they are not bona fide re- 
ports, would seem to make against out statement that a historian 
of his class presents us no reflected picture; that persons and 
people appear in his works in propria persona. Speeches, it 
must be allowed, are veritable transactions in the human com- 
monwealth; in fact, very gravely influential transactions. It 


is, indeed, often said, " Such and such things are only talk ; " 
by way of demonstrating their harmlessness. That for which 
this excuse is brought may be mere " talk " ; and talk enjoys 
the important privilege of being harmless. But addresses of 
peoples to peoples, or orations directed to nations and to princes, 
are integrant constituents of history. Granted that such ora- 
tions as those of Pericles — that most profoundly accomplished, 
genuine, noble statesman — were elaborated by Thucydides, it 
must yet be maintained that they were not foreign to the char- 
acter of the speaker. In the orations in question, these men 
proclaim the maxims adopted by their countrymen, and which 
formed their own character; they record their views of their 
political relations, and of their moral and spiritual nature ; and 
the principles of their designs and conduct. What the historian 
puts into their mouths is no supposititious system of ideas, but 
an uncorrupted transcript of their intellectual and moral habi- 

Of these historians, whom we must make thoroughly our 
own, with whom we must linger long, if we would live with 
their respective nations, and enter deeply into their spirit: of 
these historians, to whose pages we may turn not for the pur- 
poses of erudition merely, but with a view to deep and genuine 
enjoyment, there are fewer than might be imagined. Herod- 
otus the Father, i.e., the Founder of History, and Thucydides 
have been already mentioned. Xenophon's Retreat of the Ten 
Thousand, is a work equally original. Caesar's Commentaries 
are the simple masterpiece of a mighty spirit. Among the 
ancients, these annalists were necessarily great captains and 
statesmen. In the Middle Ages, if we except the Bishops, who 
were placed in the very centre of the political world, the Monks 
monopolize this category as naive chroniclers who were as de- 
cidedly isolated from active life as those elder annalists had 
been connected with it. In modern times the relations are en- 
tirely altered. Our culture is essentially comprehensive, and 
immediately changes all events into historical representations. 
Belonging to the class in question, we have vivid, simple, clear 
narrations — especially of military transactions — which might 
fairly take their place with those of Caesar. In richness of 
matter and fulness of detail as regards strategic appliances, 
and attendant circumstances, they are even more instructive. 
The French " Memoires," also, fall under this category. In 


many cases these are written by men of mark, though relating 
to affairs of little note. They not unfrequently contain a large 
proportion of anecdotal matter, so that the ground they oc- 
cupy is narrow and trivial. Yet they are often veritable master- 
pieces in history ; as those of Cardinal de Retz, which in fact 
trench on a larger historical field. In Germany such masters 
are rare. Frederick the Great (" Histoire de Mon Temps ") is 
an illustrious exception. Writers of this order must occupy 
an elevated position. Onlv from such a position is it possible 
to take an extensive view of affairs — -to see everything. This 
is out of the question for him, who from below merely gets 
a glimpse of the great world through a miserable cranny. 

II. The second kind of history we may call the reflective. 
It is history whose mode of representation is not really con- 
fined by the limits of the time to which it relates, but whose 
spirit transcends the present. In this second order a strongly 
marked variety of species may be distinguished. 

i. It is the aim of the investigator to gain a view of the 
entire history of a people or a country, or of the world, in 
short, what we call Universal History. In this case the work- 
ing up of the historical material is the main point. The work- 
man approaches his task with his own 'spirit ; a spirit distinct 
from that of the element he is to manipulate. Here a very 
important consideration will be the principles to which the au- 
thor refers the bearing and motives of the actions and events 
which he describes, and those which determine the form of his 
narrative. Among us Germans this reflective treatment and 
the display of ingenuity which it occasions assume a manifold 
variety of phases. Every writer of history proposes to himself 
an original method. The English and French confess to gen- 
eral principles of historical composition. Their standpoint is 
more that of cosmopolitan or of national culture. Among us 
each labors to invent a purely individual point of view. Instead 
of writing history, we are always beating our brains to discover 
how history ought to be written. This first kind of Reflective 
History is most nearly akin to the preceding, when it has no 
farther aim than to present the annals of a country complete. 
Such compilations (among which may be reckoned the works 
of Livy, Diodorus Siculus, Johannes von Miiller's History of 
Switzerland) are, if well performed, highly meritorious. 
Among the best of the kind may be reckoned such annalists 


as approach those of the first class ; who give so vivid a tran- 
script of events that the reader may well fancy himself lis- 
tening to contemporaries and eye-witnesses. But it often hap- 
pens that the individuality of tone which must characterize a 
writer belonging to a different culture is not modified in 
accordance with the periods such a record must traverse. The 
spirit of the writer is quite other than that of the times of 
which he treats. Thus Livy puts into the mouths of the old 
Roman kings, consuls, and generals such orations as would 
be delivered by an accomplished advocate of the Livian era, 
and which strikingly contrast with the genuine traditions of 
Roman antiquity (e. g. the fable of Menenius Agrippa). In 
the same way he gives us descriptions of battles, as if he had 
been an actual spectator; but whose features would serve 
well enough for battles in any period, and whose distinctness 
contrasts on the other hand with the want of connection and 
the inconsistency that prevail elsewhere, even in his treatment 
of chief points of interest. The difference between such a 
compiler and an original historian may be best seen by com- 
paring Polybius himself with the style in which Livy uses, 
expands, and abridges his annals in those periods of which 
Polybius's account has been preserved. Johannes von Muller 
has given a stiff, formal, pedantic aspect to his history, in the 
endeavor to remain faithful in his portraiture to the times 
he describes. We much prefer the narratives we find in old 
Tschudy. All is more naive and natural than it appears in 
the garb of a fictitious and affected archaism. 

A history which aspires to traverse long periods of time, 
or to be universal, must indeed forego the attempt to give in- 
dividual representations of the past as it actually existed. It 
must foreshorten its pictures by abstractions ; and this includes 
not merely the omission of events and deeds, but whatever is 
involved in the fact that Thought is, after all, the most trench- 
ant epitomist. A battle, a great victory, a siege, no longer 
maintains its original proportions, but is put off with a bare 
mention. When Livy, e.g., tells us of the wars with the Volsci, 
we sometimes have the brief announcement : " This year war 
was carried on with the Volsci." 

2. A second species of Reflective History is what we may 
call the Pragmatical. When we have to deal with the Past, 
and occupy ourselves with a remote world, a Present rises 


into being for the mind — produced by its own activity, as the 
reward of its labor. The occurrences are, indeed, various; 
but the idea which pervades them — their deeper import and 
connection — is one. This takes the occurrence out of the cate- 
gory of the Past and makes it virtually Present. Pragmatical 
(didactic) reflections, though in their nature decidedly ab- 
stract, are truly and indefeasibly of the Present, and quicken 
the annals of the dead Past with the life of to-day. Whether, 
indeed, such reflections are truly interesting and enlivening, 
depends on the writer's own spirit. Moral reflections must 
here be specially noticed — the moral teaching expected from 
history; which latter has not infrequently been treated with 
a direct view to the former. It may be allowed that examples 
of virtue elevate the soul, and are applicable in the moral in- 
struction of children for impressing excellence upon their 
minds. But the destinies of peoples and states, their interests, 
relations, and the complicated tissue of their affairs, present 
quite another field. Rulers, Statesmen, Nations, are wont to 
be emphatically commended to the teaching which experience 
offers in history. But what experience and history teach is 
this — that peoples and governments never have learned any- 
thing from history, or acted on principles deduced from it. 
Each period is involved in such peculiar circumstances, ex- 
hibits a condition of things so strictly idiosyncratic, that its 
conduct must be regulated by considerations connected with 
itself, and itself alone. Amid the pressure of great events, a 
general principle gives no help. It is useless to revert to simi- 
lar circumstances in the Past. The pallid shades of memory 
struggle in vain with the life and freedom of the Present. 
Looked at in this light, nothing can be shallower than the oft- 
repeated appeal to Greek and Roman examples during the 
French Revolution. Nothing is more diverse than the genius 
of those nations and that of our times. Johannes v. Muller, 
in his " Universal History," as also in his " History of Switz- 
erland," had such moral aims in view. He designed to pre- 
pare a body of political doctrines for the instruction of princes, 
governments, and peoples (he formed a special collection of 
doctrines and reflections — frequently giving us in his cor- 
respondence the exact number of apophthegms which he had 
compiled in a week) ; but he cannot reckon this part of his 
labor as among the best that he accomplished. It is only a 


thorough, liberal, comprehensive view of historical relations 
(such e.g. as we find in Montesquieu's " Esprit des Lois ") 
that can give truth and interest to reflections of this order. 
One Reflective History, therefore, supersedes another. The 
materials are patent to every writer: each is likely enough to 
believe himself capable of arranging and manipulating them; 
and we may expect that each will insist upon his own spirit 
as that of the age in question. Disgusted by such reflective 
histories, readers have often returned with pleasure to a nar- 
rative adopting no particular point of view. These certainly 
have their value ; but for the most part they offer only material 
for history. We Germans are content with such. The French, 
on the other hand, display great genius in reanimating bygone 
times, and in bringing the past to bear upon the present con- 
dition of things. 

3. The third form of Reflective History is the Critical. This 
deserves mention as pre-eminently the mode of treating his- 
tory now current in Germany. It is not history itself that is 
here presented. We might more properly designate it as a 
History of History ; a criticism of historical narratives and an 
investigation of their truth and credibility. Its peculiarity in 
point of fact and of intention, consists in the acuteness with 
which the writer extorts something from the records which 
was not in the matters recorded. The French have given us 
much that is profound and judicious in this class of composi- 
tion. But they have not endeavored to pass a merely critical 
procedure for substantial history. They have duly presented 
their judgments in the form of critical treatises. Among us, 
the so-called " higher criticism," which reigns supreme in the 
domain of philology, has also taken possession of our historical 
literature. This " higher criticism " has been the pretext for 
introducing all the anti-historical monstrosities that a vain im- 
agination could suggest. Here we have the other method of 
making the past a living reality; putting subjective fancies in 
the place of historical data; fancies whose merit is measured 
by their boldness, that is, the scantiness of the particulars on 
which they are based, and the peremptoriness with which they 
contravene the best established facts of history. 

4. The last species of Reflective History announces its frag- 
mentary character on the very face of it. It adopts an abstract 
position; yet, since it takes general points of view (e.g. as the 


History of Art, of Law, of Religion), it forms a transition 
to the Philosophical History of the World. In our time this 
form of the history of ideas has been more developed and 
brought into notice. Such branches of national life stand in 
close relation to the entire complex of a people's annals; and 
the question of chief importance in relation to our subject is, 
whether the connection of the whole is exhibited in its truth 
and reality, or referred to merely external relations. In the 
latter case, these important phenomena (Art, Law, Religion, 
etc.) appear as purely accidental national peculiarities. It 
must be remarked that, when Reflective History has advanced 
to the adoption of general points of view, if the position taken 
is a true one, these are found to constitute — not a merely ex- 
ternal thread, a superficial series — but are the inward guiding 
soul of the occurrences and actions that occupy a nation's 
annals. For, like the soul-conductor Mercury, the Idea is in 
truth, the leader of peoples and of the World ; and Spirit, the 
rational and necessitated will of that conductor, is and has 
been the director of the events of the World's History. To 
become acquainted with Spirit in this its office of guidance, 
is the object of our present undertaking. This brings us to 

III. The third kind of history — the Philosophical. No ex- 
planation was needed of the two previous classes ; their nature 
was self-evident. It is otherwise with this last, which cer- 
tainly seems to require an exposition or justification. The 
most general definition that can be given, is, that the Philosophy 
of History means nothing but the thoughtful consideration of 
it. Thought is, indeed, essential to humanity. It is this that 
distinguishes us from the brutes. In sensation, cognition, and 
intellection; in our instincts and volitions, as far as they are 
truly human, Thought is an invariable element. To insist upon 
Thought in this connection with history may, however, appear 
unsatisfactory. In this science it would seem as if Thought 
must be subordinate to what is given, to the realities of fact; 
that this is its basis and guide : while Philosophy dwells in the 
region of self-produced ideas, without reference to actuality. 
Approaching history thus prepossessed, Speculation might be 
expected to treat it as a mere passive material ; and, so far 
from leaving it in its native truth, to force it into conformity 
with a tyrannous idea, and to construe it, as the phrase is, " d 
priori" But as it is the business of history simply to adopt 


into its records what is and has been — actual occurrences and 
transactions ; and since it remains true to its character in pro- 
portion as it strictly adheres to its data, we seem to have in 
Philosophy, a process diametrically opposed to that of the his- 
toriographer. This contradiction, and the charge consequently 
brought against speculation, shall be explained and confuted. 
We do not, however, propose to correct the innumerable special 
misrepresentations, trite or novel, that are current respecting 
the aims, the interests, and the modes of treating history, and 
its relation to Philosophy. 

The only Thought which Philosophy brings with it to the 
contemplation of History, is the simple conception of Reason; 
that Reason is the Sovereign of the World; that the history 
of the world, therefore, presents us with a rational process. 
This conviction and intuition is a hypothesis in the domain of 
history as such. In that of Philosophy it is no hypothesis. It is 
there proved by speculative cognition, that Reason — and this 
term may here suffice us, without investigating the relation sus- 
tained by the Universe to the Divine Being — is Substance, as 
well as Infinite Power; its own Infinite Material underlying 
all the natural and spiritual life which it originates, as also the 
Infinite Form — that which sets this Material in motion. On 
the one hand, Reason is the substance of the Universe; viz., 
that by which and in which all reality has its being and sub- 
sistence. On the other hand, it is the Infinite Energy of the 
Universe ; since Reason is not so powerless as to be incapable 
of producing anything but a mere ideal, a mere intention — 
having its place outside reality, nobody knows where; some- 
thing separate and abstract, in the heads of certain human 
beings. It is the infinite complex of things, their entire Essence 
and Truth. It is its own material which it commits to its own 
Active Energy to work up ; not needing, as finite action does, 
the conditions of an external material of given means from 
which it may obtain its support, and the objects of its activity. 
It supplies its own nourishment, and is the object of its own 
operations. While it is exclusively its own basis of existence, 
and absolute final aim, it is also the energizing power realiz- 
ing this aim ; developing it not only in the phenomena of the 
Natural, but also of the Spiritual Universe — the History of 
the World. That this " Idea " or " Reason " is the True, the 
Eternal, the absolutely powerful essence ; that it reveals itself 


in the World, and that in that World nothing else is revealed 
but this and its honor and glory — is the thesis which, as we 
have said, has been proved in Philosophy, and is here regarded 
as demonstrated. 

In those of my hearers who are not acquainted with Philos- 
ophy, I may fairly presume, at least, the existence of a belief 
in Reason, a desire, a thirst for acquaintance with it, in enter- 
ing upon this course of Lectures. It is, in fact, the wish for 
rational insight, not the ambition to amass a mere heap of 
acquirements, that should be presupposed in every case as pos- 
sessing the mind of the learner in the study of science. If the 
clear idea of Reason is not already developed in our minds, in 
beginning the study of Universal History, we should at least 
have the firm, unconquerable faith that Reason does exist there ; 
and that the World of intelligence and conscious volition is not 
abandoned to chance, but must show itself in the light of the 
self-cognizant Idea. Yet I am not obliged to make any such 
preliminary demand upon your faith. What I have said thus 
provisionally, and what I shall have further to say, is, even in 
reference to our branch of science, not to be regarded as hypo- 
thetical, but as a summary view of the whole ; the result of the 
investigation we are about to pursue ; a result which happens 
to be known to me, because I have traversed the entire field. 
It is only an inference from the history of the World, that its 
development has been a rational process; that the history in 
question has constituted the rational necessary course of the 
World-Spirit — that Spirit whose nature is always one and the 
same, but which unfolds this its one nature in the phenomena 
of the World's existence. This must, as before stated, pre- 
sent itself as the ultimate result of History. But we have to 
take the latter as it is. We must proceed historically — em- 
pirically. Among other precautions we must take care not 
to be misled by professed historians who (especially among the 
Germans, and enjoying a considerable authority), are charge- 
able with the very procedure of which they accuse the Philos- 
opher — introducing a priori inventions of their own into the 
records of the Past. It is, for example, a widely current fiction, 
that there was an original primeval people, taught immediately 
by God, endowed with perfect insight and wisdom, possessing 
a thorough knowledge of all natural laws and spiritual truth ; 
that there have been such or such sacerdotal peoples; or, to 


mention a more specific averment, that there was a Roman 
Epos, from which the Roman historians derived the early an- 
nals of their city, etc. Authorities of this kind we leave to 
those talented historians by profession, among whom (in Ger- 
many at least) their use is not uncommon. — We might then 
announce it as the first condition to be observed, that we should 
faithfully adopt all that is historical. But in such general ex- 
pressions themselves, as " faithfully " and " adopt," lies the 
ambiguity. Even the ordinary, the " impartial " historiog- 
rapher, who believes and professes that he maintains a simply 
receptive attitude; surrendering himself only to the data sup- 
plied him — is by no means passive as regards the exercise of 
his thinking powers. He brings his categories with him, and 
sees the phenomena presented to his mental vision, exclusively 
through these media. And, especially in all that pretends to 
the name of science, it is indispensable that Reason should not 
sleep — that reflection should be in full play. To him who 
looks upon the world rationally, the world in its turn presents 
a rational aspect. The relation is mutual. But the various 
exercises of reflection — the different points of view— the modes 
of deciding the simple question of the relative importance of 
events (the first category that occupies the attention of the 
historian), do not belong to this place. 

I will only mention two phases and points of view that con- 
cern the generally diffused conviction that Reason has ruled, 
and is still ruling in the world, and consequently in the world's 
history ; because they give us, at the same time, an opportunity 
for more closely investigating the question that presents the 
greatest difficulty, and for indicating a branch of the subject, 
which will have to be enlarged on in the sequel. 

I. One of these points is, that passage in history, which in- 
forms us that the Greek Anaxagoras was the first to enunciate 
the doctrine that vovs, Understanding generally, or Reason, 
governs the world. It is not intelligence as self-conscious Rea- 
son — not a Spirit as such that is meant; and we must clearly 
distinguish these from each other. The movement of the solar 
system takes place according to unchangeable laws. These 
laws are Reason, implicit in the phenomena in question. But 
neither the sun nor the planets, which revolve around it ac- 
cording to these laws, can be said to have any consciousness 
of them, 

Vol. 23 B— Classics 


A thought of this kind — that Nature is an embodiment of 
Reason ; that it is unchangeably subordinate to universal laws, 
appears nowise striking or strange to us. We are accustomed 
to such conceptions, and find nothing extraordinary in them. 
And I have mentioned this extraordinary occurrence, partly 
to show how history teaches, that ideas of this kind, which 
may seem trivial to us, have not always been in the world; 
that, on the contrary, such a thought makes an epoch in the 
annals of human intelligence. Aristotle says of Anaxagoras, 
as the originator of the thought in question, that he appeared 
as a sober man among the drunken. Socrates adopted the 
doctrine from Anaxagoras, and it forthwith became the ruling 
idea in Philosophy— except in the school of Epicurus, who 
ascribed all events to chance. " I was delighted with the sen- 
timent " — Plato makes Socrates say — " and hoped I had found 
a teacher who would show me Nature in harmony with Rea- 
son, who would demonstrate in each particular phenomenon 
its specific aim, and in the whole, the grand object of the Uni- 
verse. I would not have surrendered this hope for a great deal. 
But how very much was I disappointed, when, having zealously 
applied myself to the writings of Anaxagoras, I found that he 
adduces only external causes, such as Atmosphere, Ether, 
Water, and the like." It is evident that the defect which 
Socrates complains of respecting Anaxagoras's doctrine, does 
not concern the principle itself, but the shortcoming of the 
propounder in applying it to Nature in the concrete. Nature 
is not deduced from that principle: the latter remains in fact 
a mere abstraction, inasmuch as the former is not compre- 
hended and exhibited as a development of it — an organization 
produced by and from Reason. I wish, at the very outset, to 
call your attention to the important difference between a con- 
ception, a principle, a truth limited to an abstract form and its 
determinate application, and concrete development. This dis- 
tinction affects the whole fabric of philosophy; and among 
other bearings of it there is one to which we shall have to re- 
vert at the close of our view of Universal History, in investigat- 
ing the aspect of political affairs in the most recent period. 

We have next to notice the rise of this idea — that Reason 
directs the World — in connection with a further application 
of it, well known to us — in the form, viz., of the religious truth, 
that the world is not abandoned to chgnce and external con- 



tingent causes, but that a Providence controls it. I stated above, 
that I would not make a demand on your faith, in regard to the 
principle announced. Yet I might appeal to your belief in it, 
in this religious aspect, if, as a general rule, the nature of philo- 
sophical science allowed it to attach authority to presupposi- 
tions. To put it in another shape — this appeal is forbidden, 
because the science of which we have to treat, proposes itself 
to furnish the proof (not indeed of the abstract Truth of the 
doctrine, but) of its correctness as compared with facts. The 
truth, then, that a Providence (that of God) presides over the 
events of the World — consorts with the proposition in question ; 
for Divine Providence is Wisdom, endowed with an infinite 
Power, which realizes its aim, viz., the absolute rational design 
of the World. Reason , is Thought conditioning itself with 
perfect freedom. But a difference — rather a contradiction — 
will manifest itself, between this belief and our principle, just 
as was the case in reference to the demand made by Socrates 
in the case of Anaxagoras's dictum. For that belief is simi- 
larly indefinite ; it is what is called a belief in a general Provi- 
dence, and is not followed out into definite application, or dis- 
played in its bearing on the grand total — the entire course of 
human history. But to explain History is to depict the pas- 
sions of mankind, the genius, the active powers, that play their 
part on the great stage ; and the providentially determined 
process which these exhibit, constitutes what is generally called 
the " plan " of Providence. Yet it is this very plan which 
is supposed to be concealed from our view : which it is deemed 
presumption, even to wish to recognize. The ignorance of 
Anaxagoras, as to how intelligence reveals itself in actual 
existence, was ingenuous. Neither in his consciousness, nor 
in that of Greece at large, had that thought been farther ex- 
panded. He had not attained the power to apply his general 
principle to the concrete, so as to deduce the latter from the 
former. It was Socrates who took the first step in compre- 
hending the union of the Concrete with the Universal. Anax- 
agoras, then, did not take up a hostile position toward such an 
application. The common belief in Providence does; at least 
it opposes the use of the principle on the large scale, and denies 
the possibility of discerning the plan of Providence. In isolated 
cases this plan is supposed to be manifest. Pious persons are 
encouraged to recognize in particular circumstances, something 


more than mere chance; to acknowledge the guiding hand of 
God; e.g., when help has unexpectedly come to an individual 
in great perplexity and need. But these instances of provi- 
dential design are of a limited kind, and concern the accom- 
plishment of nothing more than the desires of the individual 
in question. But in the history of the World, the Individuals 
\vg. have to do with are Peoples; Totalities that are States. 
We cannot, therefore, be satisfied with what we may call this 
" peddling " view of Providence, to which the belief alluded to 
limits itself. Equally unsatisfactory is the merely abstract, 
undefined belief in a Providence, when that belief is not brought 
to bear upon the details of the process which it conducts. On 
the contrary our earnest endeavor must be directed to the rec- 
ognition of the ways of Providence, the means it uses, and the 
historical phenomena in which it manifests itself; and we must 
show their connection with the general principle above men- 
tioned. But in noticing the recognition of the plan of Divine 
Providence generally, I have implicitly touched upon a promi- 
nent question of the day ; viz., that of the possibility of know- 
ing God: or rather — since public opinion has ceased to allow 
it to be a matter of question — the doctrine that it is impossible 
to know God. In direct contravention of what is commanded 
in holy Scripture as the highest duty — that we should not 
merely love, but know God — the prevalent dogma involves the 
denial .of what is there said; viz., that it is the Spirit (der 
Geist) that leads into Truth, knows all things, penetrates even 
into the deep things of the Godhead. While the Divine Being 
is thus placed beyond our knowledge, and outside the limit of 
all human things, we have the convenient license of wandering 
as far as we list, in the direction of our own fancies. We are 
freed from the obligation to refer our knowledge to the Divine 
and True. On the other hand, the vanity and egotism which 
characterize it find, in this false position, ample justification; 
and the pious modesty which puts far from it the knowledge 
of God can well estimate how much furtherance thereby ac- 
crues to its own wayward and vain strivings. I have been 
unwilling to leave out of sight the connection between our 
thesis — that Reason governs and has governed the World — 
and the question of the possibility of a knowledge of God, 
chiefly that I might not lose the opportunity of mentioning the 
imputation against Philosophy of being shy of noticing re- 


Iigious truths, or of having occasion to be so; in which is 
insinuated the suspicion that it has anything but a clear con- 
science in the presence of these truths. So far from this being 
the case, the fact is, that in recent times Philosophy has been 
obliged to defend the domain of religion against the attacks 
of several theological systems. In the Christian religion God 
has revealed Himself — that is, he has given us to understand 
what He is; so that He is no longer a concealed or secret 
existence. And this possibility of knowing Him, thus afforded 
us, renders such knowledge a duty. God wishes no narrow- 
hearted souls or empty heads for his children ; but those whose 
spirit is of itself indeed poor, but rich in the knowledge of 
Him ; and who regard this knowledge of God as the only valu- 
able possession. That development of the thinking spirit 
which has resulted from the revelation of the Divine Being as 
its original basis must ultimately advance to the intellectual 
comprehension of what was presented in the first instance, to 
feeling and imagination. The time must eventually come for 
understanding that rich product of active Reason, which the 
History of the World offers to us. It was for awhile the fash- 
ion to profess admiration for the wisdom of God as displayed 
in animals, plants, and isolated occurrences. But, if it be al- 
lowed that Providence manifests itself in such objects and 
forms of existence, why not also in Universal History? This 
is deemed too great a matter to be thus regarded. But Divine 
Wisdom, i.e., Reason, is one and the same in the great as in the 
little ; and we must not imagine God to be too weak to exercise 
his wisdom on the grand scale. Our intellectual striving aims 
at realizing the conviction that what was intended by eternal 
wisdom, is actually accomplished in the domain of existent, 
active Spirit, as well as in that of mere Nature. Our mode 
of treating the subject is, in this aspect, a Theodicsea — a justifi- 
cation of the ways of God — which Leibnitz attempted meta- 
physically, in his method, i.e., in indefinite abstract categories — ■ 
so that the ill that is found in the World may be comprehended, 
and the thinking Spirit reconciled with the fact of the existence 
of evil. Indeed, nowhere is such a harmonizing view more 
pressingly demanded than in Universal History; and it can 
be attained only by recognizing the positive existence, in which 
that negative element is a subordinate, and vanquished nullity. 
On the one hand, the ultimate design of the World must be 


perceived; and, on the other hand, the fact that this design 
has been actually realized in it, and that evil has not been 
able permanently to assert a competing position. But this 
superintending vovs, or in " Providence." " Reason," whose 
sovereignty over the World has been maintained, is as indefi- 
nite a term as " Providence," supposing the term to be used 
by those who are unable to characterize it distinctly — to show 
wherein it consists, so as to enable us to decide whether a 
thing is rational or irrational. An adequate definition of Rea- 
son is the first desideratum ; and whatever boast may be made 
of strict adherence to it in explaining phenomena — without 
such a definition we get no farther than mere words. With 
these observations we may proceed to the second point of view 
that has to be considered in this Introduction. 

II. The inquiry into the essential destiny of Reason — as far 
as it is considered in reference to the World — is identical with 
the question, what is the ultimate design of the World? And 
the expression implies that that design is destined to be real- 
ized. Two points of consideration suggest themselves; first, 
the import of this design — its abstract definition ; and secondly, 
its realisation. 

It must be observed at the outset, that the phenomenon we 
investigate — Universal History — belongs to the realm of Spirit. 
The term " World/' includes both physical and psychical Nat- 
ure. Physical Nature also plays its part in the World's His- 
tory, and attention will have to be paid to the fundamental 
natural relations thus involved. But Spirit, and the course of 
its development, is our substantial object. Our task does not 
require us to contemplate Nature as a Rational System in itself 
— though in its own proper domain it proves itself such — but 
simply in its relation to Spirit. On the stage on which we are 
observing it — Universal History — Spirit displays itself in its 
most concrete reality. Notwithstanding this (or rather for the 
very purpose of comprehending the general principles which 
this, its form of concrete reality, embodies) we must premise 
some abstract characteristics of the nature of Spirit. Such an 
explanation, however, cannot be given here under any other 
form than that of bare assertion. The present is not the occa- 
sion for unfolding the idea of Spirit speculatively ; for what- 
ever has a place in an Introduction, must, as already observed, 
be taken as simply historical; something assumed as having 


been explained and proved elsewhere ; or whose demonstration 
awaits the sequel of the Science of History itself. 
We have therefore to mention here : 

( 1 ) The abstract characteristics of the nature of Spirit. 

(2) What means Spirit uses in order to realize its Idea. 

(3) Lastly, we must consider the shape which the per- 
fect embodiment of Spirit assumes — the State. 

(1) The nature of Spirit may be understood by a glance 
at its direct opposite — Matter. As the essence of Matter is 
Gravity, so, on the other hand, we may affirm that the substance, 
the essence of Spirit is Freedom. All will readily assent to 
the doctrine that Spirit, among other properties, is also en- 
dowed with Freedom ; but philosophy teaches that all the qual- 
ities of Spirit exist only through Freedom; that all are but 
means for attaining Freedom; that all seek and produce this 
and this alone. It is a result of speculative Philosophy that 
Freedom is the sole truth of Spirit. Matter possesses gravity 
in virtue of its tendency toward a central point. It is essen- 
tially composite; consisting of parts that exclude each other. 
It seeks its Unity; and therefore exhibits itself as self-de- 
structive, as verging toward its opposite [an indivisible point]. 
If it could attain this, it would be Matter no longer, it would 
have perished. It strives after the realization of its Idea; 
for in Unity it exists ideally. Spirit, on the contrary, may be 
denned as that which has its centre in itself. It has not a 
unity outside itself, but has already found it ; it exists in and 
with itself. Matter has its essence out of itself ; Spirit is self- 
contained existence (Bei-sich-selbst-seyn). Now this is Free- 
dom, exactly. For if I am dependent, my being is referred to 
something else which I am not ; I cannot exist independently 
of something external. I am free, on the contrary, when my 
existence depends upon myself. This self-contained existence 
of Spirit is none other than self-consciousness — consciousness 
of one's own being. Two things must be distinguished in con- 
sciousness ; first, the fact that I know; secondly, what I know. 
In self consciousness these are merged in one ; for Spirit knows 
itself. It involves an appreciation of its own nature, as also 
an energy enabling it to realize itself; to make itself actually 
that which it is potentially. According to this abstract defini- 
tion it may be said of Universal History, that it is the exhibi- 
tion of Spirit in the process of working out the knowledge of 


that which it is potentially. And as the germ bears in itself 
the whole nature of the tree, and the taste and form of its 
fruits, so do the first traces of Spirit virtually contain the whole 
of that History. The Orientals have not attained the knowl- 
edge that Spirit — Man as such — is free ; and because they 
do not know this, they are not free. They only know that 
one is free. But on this very account, the freedom of that one 
is only caprice; ferocity — brutal recklessness of passion, or 
a mildness and tameness of the desires, which is itself only 
an accident of Nature — mere caprice like the former. — That 
one is therefore only a Despot ; not a free man. The conscious- 
ness of Freedom first arose among the Greeks, and therefore 
they were free ; but they, and the Romans likewise, knew only 
that some are free — not man as such. Even Plato and Aris- 
totle did not know this. The Greeks, therefore, had slaves; 
and their whole life and the maintenance of their splendid lib- 
erty, was implicated with the institution of slavery: a fact 
moreover, which made that liberty on the one hand only an 
accidental, transient and limited growth; on the other hand, 
constituted it a rigorous thraldom of our common nature — of 
the Human. The German nations, under the influence of Chris- 
tianity, were the first to attain the consciousness that man, as 
man, is free : that it is the freedom of Spirit which constitutes 
its essence. This consciousness arose first in religion, the in- 
most region of Spirit; but to introduce the principle into the 
various relations of the actual world involves a more extensive 
problem than its simple implantation; a problem whose solu- 
tion and application require a severe and lengthened process 
of culture. In proof of this, we may note that slavery did not 
cease immediately on the reception of Christianity. Still less 
did liberty predominate in States ; or Governments and Consti- 
tutions adopt a rational organization, or recognize freedom 
as their basis. That application of the principle to political re- 
lations ; the thorough moulding and interpenetration of the 
constitution of society by it, is a process identical with history 
itself. I have already directed attention to the distinction here 
involved, between a principle as such, and its application; i.e., 
its introduction and carrying out in the actual phenomena of 
Spirit and Life. This is a point of fundamental importance 
in our science, and one which must be constantly respected as 
essential. And in the same way as this distinction has at- 


tracted attention in view of the Christian principle of self-con- 
sciousness — Freedom; it also shows itself as an essential one, 
in view of the principle of Freedom generally. The History of 
the world is none other than the progress of the consciousness 
of Freedom; a progress whose development according to the 
necessity of its nature, it is our business to investigate. 

The general statement given above, of the various grades in 
the consciousness of Freedom — and which we applied in the 
first instance to the fact that the Eastern nations knew only 
that one is free; the Greek and Roman world only that some 
are free ; while we know that all men absolutely (man as man) 
are free — supplies us with the natural division of Universal 
History, and suggests the mode of its discussion. This is 
remarked, however, only incidentally and anticipatively ; some 
other ideas must be first explained. 

The destiny of the spiritual World, and — since this is the 
substantial World, while the physical remains subordinate to 
it, or, in the language of speculation, has no truth as against 
the spiritual — the final cause of the World at large, we allege 
to be the consciousness of its own freedom on the part of Spirit, 
and ipso facto, the reality of that freedom. But that this term 
" Freedom," without further qualification, is an indefinite, and 
incalculable ambiguous term; and that while that which it 
represents is the ne plus ultra of attainment, it is liable to an 
infinity of misunderstandings, confusions and errors, and to 
become the occasion for all imaginable excesses — has never 
been more clearly known and felt than in modern, times. Yet, 
for the present, we must content ourselves with the term itself 
without farther definition. Attention was also directed to the 
importance of the infinite difference between a principle in the 
abstract, and its realization in the concrete. In the process 
before us, the essential nature of freedom — which involves in 
it absolute necessity — is to be displayed as coming to a con- 
sciousness of itself (for it is in its very nature, self-conscious- 
ness) and thereby realizing its existence. Itself is its own 
object of attainment, and the sole aim of Spirit. This result 
it is, at which the process of the World's History has been con- 
tinually aiming : and to which the sacrifices that have ever and 
anon been laid on the vast altar of the earth, through the long 
lapse of ages, have been offered. This is the only aim that sees 
itself realized and fulfilled; the only pole of repose amid the 


ceaseless change of events and conditions, and the sole efficient 
principle that pervades them. This final aim is God's purpose 
with the world ; but God is the absolutely perfect Being, and 
can, therefore, will nothing other than himself — his own Will. 
The Nature of His Will — that is, His Nature itself — is what 
we here call the Idea of Freedom ; translating the language of 
Religion into that of Thought. The question, then, which we 
may next put is : What means does this principle of Freedom 
use for its realization? This is the second point we have to 

(2) The question of the means by which Freedom develops 
itself to a World, conducts us to the phenomenon of History 
itself. Although Freedom is, primarily, an undeveloped idea, 
the means it uses are external and phenomenal ; presenting 
themselves in History to our sensuous vision. The first glance 
at History convinces us that the actions of men proceed from 
their needs, their passions, their characters and talents; and 
impresses us with the belief that such needs, passions and in- 
terests are the sole springs of action — the efficient agents in 
this scene of activity. Among these may, perhaps, be found 
aims of a liberal or universal kind — benevolence it may be, or 
noble patriotism ; but such virtues and general views are but 
insignificant as compared with the World and its doings. We 
may perhaps see the Ideal of Reason actualized in those who 
adopt such aims, and within the sphere of their influence ; but 
they bear only a trifling proportion to the mass of the human 
race ; and the extent of that influence is limited accordingly. 
Passions, private aims, and the satisfaction of selfish desires, 
are on the other hand, most effective springs of action. Their 
power lies in the fact that they respect none of the limitations 
which justice and morality would impose on them; and that 
these natural impulses have a more direct influence over man 
than the artificial and tedious discipline that tends to order and 
self-restraint, law and morality. When we look at this display 
of passions, and the consequences of their violence; the Un- 
reason which is associated not only with them, but even (rather 
we might say especially) with good designs and righteous aims ; 
when we see the evil, the vice, the ruin that has befallen the 
most flourishing kingdoms which the mind of man ever created ; 
we can scarce avoid being filled with sorrow at thfs universal 
taint of corruption: and, since this decay is not the work of 


mere Nature, but of the Human Will — a moral embitterment — 
a revolt of the Good Spirit (if it have a place within us) may 
well be the result of our reflections. Without rhetorical ex- 
aggeration, a simply truthful combination of the miseries that 
have overwhelmed the noblest of nations and polities, and the 
finest exemplars of private virtue — forms a picture of most 
fearful aspect, and excites emotions of the profoundest and 
most hopeless sadness, counterbalanced by no consolatory re- 
sult. We endure in beholding it a mental torture, allowing 
no defence or escape but the consideration that what has hap- 
pened could not be otherwise; that it is a fatality which no 
intervention could alter. And at last we draw back from the 
intolerable disgust with which these sorrowful reflections 
threaten us, into the more agreeable environment of our indi- 
vidual life — the Present formed by our private aims and in- 
terests. In short we retreat into the selfishness that stands on 
the quiet shore, and thence enjoys in safety the distant spectacle 
of " wrecks confusedly hurled." But even regarding History 
as the slaughter-bench at which the happiness of peoples, the 
wisdom of States, and the virtue of individuals have been vic- 
timized — the question involuntarily arises — to what principle, 
to what final aim these enormous sacrifices have been offered. 
From this point the investigation usually proceeds to that 
which we have made the general commencement of our in- 
quiry. Starting from this we pointed out those phenomena 
which made up a picture so suggestive of gloomy emotions 
and thoughtful reflections — as the very Held which we, for our 
part, regard as exhibiting only the means for realizing what 
we assert to be the essential destiny — the absolute aim, or — 
which comes to the same thing — the true result of the World's 
History. We have all along purposely eschewed " moral re- 
flections " as a method of rising from the scene of historical 
specialties to the general principles which they embody. Be- 
sides, it is, not the interest of such sentimentalities, really to 
rise above those depressing emotions ; and to solve the enigmas 
of Providence which the considerations that occasioned them, 
present. It is essential to their character to find a gloomy sat- 
isfaction in the empty and fruitless sublimities of that negative 
result. We return them to the point of view which we have 
adopted; observing that the successive steps (momente) of 
the analysis to which it will lead us, will also evolve the con- 


ditions requisite for answering the inquiries suggested by the 
panorama of sin and suffering that history unfolds. 

The first remark we have to make, and which — though al- 
ready presented more than once — cannot be too often repeated 
when the occasion seems to call for it — is that what we call 
principle, aim, destiny, or the nature and idea of Spirit, is some- 
thing merely general and abstract. Principle — Plan of Exist- 
ence — Law — is a hidden, undeveloped essence, which as such 
— however true in itself — is not completely real. Aims, prin- 
ciples, etc., have a place in our thoughts, in our subjective design 
only; but not yet in the sphere of reality. That which exists 
for itself only, is a possibility, a potentiality; but has not yet 
emerged into Existence. A second element must be introduced 
in order to produce actuality — viz., actuation, realization; and 
whose motive power is the Will — the activity of man in the 
widest sense. It is only by this activity that that Idea as well 
as abstract characteristics generally, are realized, actualized; 
for of themselves they are powerless. The motive power that 
puts them in operation, and gives them determinate existence, 
is the need*, instinct, inclination, and passion of man. That 
some conception of mine should be developed into act and 
existence, is my earnest desire : I wish to assert my personality 
ji connection with it: I wish to be satisfied by its execution. 
If I am to exert myself for any object, it must in some way 
or other be my object. In the accomplishment of such or such 
designs I must at the same time find my satisfaction ; although 
the purpose for which I exert myself includes a complication 
of results, many of which have no interest for me. This is the 
absolute right of personal existence — to find itself satisfied in 
its activity and labor. If men are to interest themselves for 
anything, they must (so to speak) have part of their existence 
involved in it ; find their individuality gratified by its attain- 
ment. Here a mistake must be avoided. We intend blame, and 
justly impute it as a fault, when we say of an individual, that 
he is " interested " (in taking part in such or such transactions) . 
that is, seeks only his private advantage. In reprehending 
this we find fault with him for furthering his personal aims 
without any regard to a more comprehensive design ; of which 
he takes advantage to promote his own interest, or which he 
even sacrifices with this view. But he who is active in pro- 
moting an object is not simply " interested," but interested in 


that object itself. Language faithfully expresses this distinc- 
tion. — Nothing therefore happens, nothing is accomplished, 
unless the individuals concerned, seek their own satisfaction 
in the issue. They are particular units of society; i.e., they 
have special needs, instincts, and interests generally, peculiar 
to themselves. Among these needs are not only such as we 
usually call necessities — the stimuli of individual desire and 
volition — but also those connected with individual views and 
convictions; or — to use a term expressing less decision — lean- 
ings of opinion; supposing the impulses of reflection, under- 
standing, and reason, to have been awakened. In these cases 
people demand, if they are to exert themselves in any direction, 
that the object should commend itself to them; that in point 
of opinion — whether as to its goodness, justice, advantage, 
profit — they should be able to "enter into it" (dabei seyn). 
This is a consideration of especial importance in our age, when 
people are less than formerly influenced by reliance on others, 
and by authority; when, on the contrary, they devote their 
activities to a cause on the ground of their own understanding, 
their independent conviction and opinion. 

We assert then that nothing has been accomplished without 
interest on the part of the actors ; and — if interest be called 
passion, inasmuch as the whole individuality, to the neglect 
of all other actual or possible interests and claims, is devoted 
to an object with every fibre of volition, concentrating all its 
desires and powers upon it — we may affirm absolutely that 
nothing great in the World has been accomplished without 
passion. Two elements, therefore, enter into the object of our 
investigation; the first the Idea, the second the complex of 
human passions; the one the warp, the other the woof of the 
vast arras-web of Universal History. The concrete mean and 
union of the two is Liberty, under the conditions of morality 
m a State. We have spoken of the Idea of Freedom as the 
nature of Spirit, and the absolute goal of History. Passion 
is regarded as a thing of sinister aspect, as more or less im- 
moral. Man is required to have no passions. Passion, it is 
true, is not quite the suitable word for what I wish to express. 
I mean here nothing more than the human activity as resulting 
from private interests — special, or if you will, self-seeking de- 
signs — with this qualification, that the whole energy of will 
and character is devoted to their attainment; that other in- 


terests (which would in themselves constitute attractive aims) 
or rather all things else, are sacrificed to them. The object in 
question is so bound up with the man's will, that it entirely 
and alone determines the " hue of resolution," and is insepa- 
rable from it. It has become the very essence of his volition. 
For a person is a specific existence ; not man in general (a term 
to which no real existence corresponds) but a particular human 
being. The term " character " likewise expresses this idiosyn- 
crasy of Will and Intelligence. But Character comprehends 
all peculiarities whatever ; the way in which a person conducts 
himself in private relations, etc., and is not limited to his 
idiosyncrasy in its practical and active phase. I shall, there- 
fore, use the term " passions " ; understanding thereby the 
particular bent of character, as far as the peculiarities of voli- 
tion are not limited to private interest, but supply the impelling 
and actuating force for accomplishing deeds shared in by the 
community at large. Passion is in the first instance the sub- 
jective, and therefore the formal side of energy, will, and ac- 
tivity — leaving the object or aim still undetermined. And there 
is a similar relation of formality to reality in merely individual 
conviction, individual views, individual conscience. It is always 
a question of essential importance, what is the purport of my 
conviction, what the object of my passion, in deciding whether 
the one or the other is of a true and substantial nature. Con- 
versely, if it is so, it will inevitably attain actual existence — 
be realized. 

From this comment on the second essential element in the 
historical embodiment of an aim, we infer — glancing at the 
institution of the State in passing — that a State is then well 
constituted and internally powerful, when the private interest 
of its citizens is one with the common interest of the State; 
when the one finds its gratification and realization in the other 
— a proposition in itself very important. But in a State many 
institutions must be adopted, much political machinery invented, 
accompanied by appropriate political arrangements — necessi- 
tating long struggles of the understanding before what is really 
appropriate can be discovered — involving, moreover, conten- 
tions with private interest and passions, and a tedious discipline 
of these latter, in order to bring about the desired harmony. 
The epoch when a State attains this harmonious conditon, 
marks the period of its bloom, its virtue, its vigor, and its pros- 


perity. But the history of mankind does not begin with a con- 
scious aim of any kind, as it is the case with the particular circles 
into which men form themselves of set purpose. The mere 
social instinct implies a conscious purpose of security for life 
and property; and when society has been constituted, this 
purpose becomes more comprehensive. The History of the 
World begins with its general aim — the realization of the Idea 
of Spirit — only in an implicit form (an sich) that is, as Nature; 
a hidden, most profoundly hidden, unconscious instinct; and 
the whole process of History (as already observed), is directed 
to rendering this unconscious impulse a conscious one. Thus 
appearing in the form of merely natural existence, natural will 
— that which has been called the subjective side — physical 
craving, instinct, passion, private interest, as also opinion and 
subjective conception — spontaneously present themselves at the 
very commencement. This vast congeries of volitions, interests 
and activities, constitute the instruments and means of the 
World- Spirit for attaining its object; bringing it to conscious- 
ness, and realizing it. And this aim is none other than finding 
itself — coming to itself — and contemplating itself in concrete 
actuality. But that those manifestations of vitality on the part 
of individuals and peoples, in which they seek and satisfy their 
own purposes, are, at the same time, the means and instru- 
ments of a higher and broader purpose of which they know 
nothing — which they realize unconsciously — might be made 
a matter of question ; rather has been questioned, and in every 
variety of form negatived, decried and ^contemned as mere 
dreaming and " Philosophy." But on this point I announced 
my view at the very outset, and asserted our hypothesis — which, 
however, will appear in the sequel, in the form of a legitimate 
inference — and our belief that Reason governs the world, and 
has consequently governed its history. In relation to this in- 
dependently universal and substantial existence — all else is sub- 
ordinate, subservient to it, and the means for its development. 
— The Union of Universal Abstract Existence generally with 
the Individual — the Subjective — that this alone is Truth, be- 
longs to the department of speculation, and is treated in this 
general form in Logic. — But in the process of the World's 
History itself — as still incomplete — the abstract final aim of 
history is not yet made the distinct object of desire and interest. 
While these limited sentiments are still unconscious of the pur- 


pose they are fulfilling, the universal principle is implicit in 
them, and is realizing itself through them. The question also 
assumes the form of the union of Freedom and Necessity; the 
latent abstract process of Spirit being regarded as Necessity, 
while that which exhibits itself in the conscious will of men, as 
their interest, belongs to the domain of Freedom. As the meta- 
physical connection {i.e., the connection in the Idea) of these 
forms of thought, belongs to Logic, it would be out of place 
to analyze it here. The chief and cardinal points only shall be 

Philosophy shows that the Idea advances to an infinite an- 
tithesis ; that, viz., between the Idea in its free, universal form 
— in which it exists for itself — and the contrasted form of ab- 
stract introversion, reflection on itself, which is formal exist- 
ence-for-self, personality, formal freedom, such as belongs to 
Spirit only. The universal Idea exists thus as the substantial 
totality of things on the one side, and as the abstract essence 
of free volition on the other side. This reflection of the mind 
on itself is individual self-consciousness — the polar opposite 
of the Idea in its general form, and therefore existing in abso- 
lute Limitation. This polar opposite is consequently limitation, 
particularization, for the universal absolute being; it is the 
side of its definite existence; the sphere of its formal reality, 
the sphere of the reverencj oaid to God. — To comprehend the 
absolute connection of this antithesis, is the profound task of 
metaphysics. This Limitation originates all forms of particu- 
larity of whatever kind. The formal volition (of which we 
have spoken) wills itself ; desires to make its own personality 
valid in all that it purposes and does : even the pious individual 
wishes to be saved and happy. This pole of the antithesis, ex- 
isting for itself, is — in contrast with the Absolute Universal 
Being — a special separate existence, taking cognizance of spe- 
cialty only, and willing that alone. In short it plays its part in 
the region of mere phenomena. This is the sphere of particular 
purposes, in effecting which individuals exert themselves on 
behalf of their individuality — give it full play and objective 
realization. This is also the sphere of happiness and its oppo- 
site. He is happy who finds his condition suited to his special 
character, will, and fancy, and so enjoys himself in that condi- 
tion. The History of the World is not the theatre of happiness. 
Periods of happiness are blank pages in it, for they are periods 


of harmony — periods when the antithesis is in abeyance. Re- 
flection on self — the Freedom above described — is abstractly 
defined as the formal element of the activity of the absolute 
Idea. The realizing activity of which we have spoken is the 
middle term of the Syllogism, one of whose extremes is the 
Universal essence, the Idea, which reposes in the penetralia 
of Spirit ; and the other, the complex of external things — 
objective matter. That activity is the medium by which the 
universal latent principle is translated into the domain of ob- 

I will endeavor to make what has been said more vivid and 
clear by examples. 

The building of a house is, in the first instance, a subjective 
aim and design. On the other hand we have, as means, the 
several substances required for the work — Iron, Wood, Stones. 
The elements are made use of in working up this material: 
fire to melt the iron, wind to blow the fire, water to set wheels 
in motion, in order to cut the wood, etc. The result is, that the 
wind, which has helped to build the house, is shut out by the 
house; so also are the violence of rains and floods, and the 
destructive powers of fire, so far as the house is made fire- 
proof. The stones and beams obey the law of gravity — press 
downward — and so high walls are carried up. Thus the ele- 
ments are made use of in accordance with their nature, and yet 
to co-operate for a product, by which their operation is limited. 
Thus the passions of men are gratified ; they develop them- 
selves and their aims in accordance with their natural tenden- 
cies, and build up the edifice of human society; thus fortifying 
a position for Right and Order against themselves. 

The connection of events above indicated, involves also the 
fact, that in history an additional result is commonly produced 
by human actions beyond that which they aim at and obtain — 
that which they immediately recognize and desire. They grat- 
ify their own interest ; but something further is thereby ac- 
complished, latent in the actions in question, though not present 
to their consciousness, and not included in their design. An 
analogous example is offered in the case of a man who, from 
a feeling of revenge — perhaps not an unjust one, but produced 
by injury on the other's part — burns that other man's house. A 
connection is immediately established between the deed itself 
and a train of circumstances not directly included in it, taken 


abstractedly. In itself it consisted in merely presenting a small 
flame to a small portion of a beam. Events not involved in that 
simple act follow of themselves. The part of the beam which 
was set fire to is connected with its remote portions ; the beam 
itself is united with the woodwork of the house generally, and 
this with other houses; so that a wide conflagration ensues, 
which destroys the goods and chattels of many other persons 
besides his against whom the act of revenge was first directed ; 
perhaps even costs not a few men their lives. This lay neither 
in the deed abstractedly, nor in the design of the man who com- 
mitted it. But the action has a further general bearing. In 
the design of the doer it was only revenge executed against 
an individual in the destruction of his property, but it is more- 
over a crime, and that involves punishment also. This may 
not have been present to the mind of the perpetrator, still less 
in his intention; but his deed itself, the general principles it 
calls into play, its substantial content entails it. By this ex- 
ample I wish only to impress on you the consideration, that in 
a simple act, something further may be implicated than lies in 
the intention and consciousness of the agent. The example 
before us involves, however, this additional consideration, that 
the substance of the act, consequently we may say the act itself, 
recoils upon the perpetrator — reacts upon him with destructive 
tendency. This union of the two extremes — the embodiment 
of a general idea in the form of direct reality, and the elevation 
of a speciality into connection with universal truth — is brought 
to pass, at first sight, under the conditions of an utter diversity 
of nature between the two, and an indifference of the one ex- 
treme towards the other. The aims which the agents set before 
them are limited and special ; but it must be remarked that the 
agents themselves are intelligent thinking beings. The purport 
of their desires is interwoven with general, essential considera- 
tions of justice, good, duty, etc. ; for mere desire — volition in 
its rough and savage forms — falls not within the scene and 
sphere of Universal History. Those general considerations, 
which form at the same time a norm for directing aims and 
actions, have a determinate purport; for such an abstraction 
as " good for its own sake," has no place in living reality. If 
men are to act, they must not only intend the Good, but must 
have decided for themselves whether this or that particular 
thing is a Good. What special course of action, however, is 



good or not, is determined, as regards the ordinary contingen- 
cies of private life, by the laws and customs of a State; and 
here no great difficulty is presented. Each individual has his 
position; he knows on the whole what a just, honorable course 
of conduct is. As to ordinary, private relations, the assertion 
that it is difficult to choose the right and good — the regarding 
it as the mark of an exalted morality to find difficulties and 
raise scruples on that score — may be set down to an evil or 
perverse will, which seeks to evade duties not in themselves 
of a perplexing nature; or, at any rate, to an idly reflective 
habit of mind — where a feeble will affords no sufficient exercise 
to the faculties — leaving them therefore to find occupation with- 
in themselves, and to expend themselves on moral self-adu- 

It is quite otherwise with the comprehensive relations that 
History has to do with. In this sphere are presented those 
momentous collisions between existing, acknowledged duties, 
laws, and rights, and those contingencies which are adverse 
to this fixed system ; which assail and even destroy its founda- 
tions and existence ; whose tenor may nevertheless seem good 
— on the large scale advantageous — yes, even indispensable and 
necessary. These contingencies realize themselves in History: 
they involve a general principle of a different order from that 
on which depends the permanence of a people or a State. This 
principle is an essential phase in the development of the creat- 
ing Idea, of Truth striving and urging towards (consciousness 
of) itself. Historical men — World-Historical Individuals — are 
those in whose aims such a general principle lies. 

Caesar, in danger of losing a position, not perhaps at that 
time of superiority, yet at least of equality with the others who 
were at the head of the State, and of succumbing to those who 
were just on the point of becoming his enemies — belongs es- 
sentially to this category. These enemies — who were at the 
same time pursuing their personal aims — had the form of the 
constitution, and the power conferred by an appearance of jus- 
tice, on their side. Caesar was contending for the maintenance 
of his position, honor, and safety ; and, since the power of his 
opponents included the sovereignty over the provinces of the 
Roman Empire, his victory secured for him the conquest ofr 
that entire Empire ; and he thus became — though leaving the 
form of the constitution — the Autocrat of the State. That 


which secured for him the execution of a design, which in the 
first instance was of negative import — the Autocracy of Rome 
— was, however, at the same time an independently necessary 
feature in the history of Rome and of the world. It was not, 
then, his private gain merely, but an unconscious impulse that 
occasioned the accomplishment of that for which the time was 
ripe. Such are all great historical men — whose own partic- 
ular aims involve those large issues which are the will of the 
World-Spirit. They may be called Heroes, inasmuch as they 
have derived their purposes and their vocation, not from the 
calm, regular course of things, sanctioned by the existing 
order; but from a concealed fount — one which has not at- 
tained to phenomenal, present existence — from that inner 
Spirit, still hidden beneath the surface, which, impinging on 
the outer world as on a shell, bursts it in pieces, because it is 
another kernel than that which belonged to the shell in ques- 
tion. They are men, therefore, who appear to draw the im- 
pulse of their life from themselves ; and whose deeds have 
produced a condition of things and a complex of historical 
relations which appear to be only their interest, and their work. 
Such individuals had no consciousness of the general Idea 
they were unfolding, while prosecuting those aims of theirs ; 
on the contrary, they were practical, political men. But at the 
same time they were thinking men, who had an insight into 
the requirements of the time — what was ripe for development. 
This was the very Truth for their age, for their world ; the 
species next in order, so to speak, and which was already 
formed in the womb of time. It was theirs to know this nas- 
cent principle ; the necessary, directly sequent step in progress, 
which their world was to take ; to make this their aim, and to 
expend their energy in promoting it. World-historical men — 
the Heroes of an epoch — must, therefore, be recognized as its 
clear-sighted ones ; their deeds, their words are the best of that 
time. Great men have formed purposes to satisfy themselves, 
not others. Whatever prudent designs and counsels they 
might have learned from others, would be the more limited and 
inconsistent features in their career ; for it was they who best 
understood affairs; from whom others learned, and approved, 
or at least acquiesced in — their policy. For that Spirit which 
had taken this fresh step in history is the inmost soul of all in- 
dividuals ; but in a state of unconsciousness which the great 



men in question aroused. Their fellows, therefore, follow these 
soul-leaders ; for they feel the irresistible power of their own 
inner Spirit thus embodied. If we go on to cast a look at the 
fate of these World-Historical persons, whose vocation it was 
to be the agents of the World-Spirit — we shall find it to have 
been no happy one. They attained no calm enjoyment ; their 
whole life was labor and trouble; their whole nature was 
nought else but their master-passion. When their object is 
attained they fall off like empty hulls from the kernel. They 
die early, like Alexander; they are murdered, like Csesar; 
transported to St. Helena, like Napoleon. This fearful con- 
solation — that historical men have not enjoyed what is called 
happiness, and of which only private life (and this may be 
passed under very various external circumstances) is capable 
— this consolation those may draw from history, who stand 
in need of it ; and it is craved by Envy — vexed at what is great 
and transcendant — striving, therefore, to depreciate it, and to 
find some flaw in it. Thus in modern times it has been demon- 
strated ad nauseam that princes are generally unhappy on their 
thrones ; in consideration of which the possession of a throne 
is tolerated, and men acquiesce in the fact that not themselves 
but the personages in question are its occupants. The Free 
Man, we may observe, is not envious, but gladly recognizes 
what is great and exalted, and rejoices that it exists. 

It is in the light of those common elements which constitute 
the interest and therefore the passions of individuals, that these 
historical men are to be regarded. They are great men, be- 
cause they willed and accomplished something great ; not a 
mere fancy, a mere intention, but that which met the case and 
fell in with the needs of the age. This mode of considering 
them also excludes the so-called " psychological " view, which 
— serving the purpose of envy most effectually — contrives so 
to refer all actions to the heart — to bring them under such 
a subjective aspect — as that their authors appear to have done 
everything under the impulse of some passion, mean or grand 
— some morbid craving — and on account of these passions and 
cravings to have been not moral men. Alexander of Macedon 
partly subdued Greece, and then Asia ; therefore he was pos- 
sessed by a morbid craving for conquest. He is alleged to have 
acted from a craving for fame, for conquest ; and the proof that 
these were the impelling motives is that he did that which re- 



suited in fame. What pedagogue has not demonstrated of Al- 
exander the Great — of Julius Caesar — that they were in- 
stigated by such passions, and were consequently immoral 
men ? — whence the conclusion immediately follows that he, the 
pedagogue, is a better man than they, because he has not such 
passions ; a proof of which lies in the fact that he does not 
conquer Asia — vanquish Darius and Porus — but while he en- 
joys life himself, lets others enjoy it too. These psychologists 
are particularly fond of contemplating those peculiarities of 
great historical figures which appertain to them as private 
persons. Man must eat and drink ; he sustains relations to 
friends and acquaintances ; he has passing impulses and ebulli- 
tions of temper. " No man is a hero to his valet-de-chambre " 
is a well-known proverb ; I have added — and Goethe repeated 
it ten years later — " but not because the former is no hero, but 
because the latter is a valet." He takes off the hero's boots, 
assists him to bed, knows that he prefers champagne, etc. His- 
torical personages waited upon in historical literature by such 
psychological valets, come poorly off ; they are brought down 
by these their attendants to a level with — or rather a few de- 
grees below the level of — the morality of such exquisite dis- 
cerners of spirits. The Thersites of Homer who abuses the 
kings is a standing figure for all times. Blows — that is beating 
with a solid cudgel — he does not get in every age, as in the 
Homeric one ; but his envy, his egotism, is the thorn which 
he has to carry in his flesh ; and the undying worm that gnaws 
him is the tormenting consideration that his excellent views 
and vituperations remain absolutely without result in the 
world. But our satisfaction at the fate of Thersitism also may 
have its sinister side. 

A World-historical individual is not so unwise as to 
a variety of wishes to divide his regards. He is devoted to the 
One Aim, regardless of all else. It is even possible that such 
men may treat other great, even sacred interests, inconsider- 
ately ; conduct which is indeed obnoxious to moral reprehen- 
sion. But so mighty a form must trample down many an inno- 
cent flower — crush to pieces many an object in its path. 

The special interest of passion is thus inseparable from the 
active development of a general principle: for it is from the 
special and determinate and from its negation, that the Univer- 
sal results. Particularity contends with its like, and some loss 



is involved in the issue. It is not the general idea that is im- 
plicated in opposition and combat, and that is exposed to dan- 
ger. It remains in the background, untouched and uninjured. 
This may be called the cunning of reason — that it sets the pas- 
sions to work for itself, while that which develops its existence 
through such impulsion pays the penalty, and suffers loss. For 
it is phenomenal being that is so treated, and of this part is of 
no value, part is positive and real. The particular is for the 
most part of too trifling value as compared with the general : 
individuals are sacrificed and abandoned. The Idea pays the 
penalty of determinate existence and of corruptibility, not from 
itself, but from the passions of individuals. 

But though we might tolerate the idea that individuals, their 
desires and the gratification of them, are thus sacrificed, and 
their happiness given up to the empire of chance, to which it 
belongs; and that as a general rule, individuals come under 
the category of means to an ulterior end — there is one aspect 
of human individuality which we should hesitate to regard in 
that subordinate light, even in relation to the highest; since 
it is absolutely no subordinate element, but exists in those in- 
dividuals as inherently eternal and divine. I mean morality, 
ethics, religion. Even when speaking of the realization of the 
great ideal aim by means of individuals, the subjective element 
in them — their interest and that of their cravings and impulses, 
their views and judgments, though exhibited as the merely 
formal side of their existence — -was spoken of as having an 
infinite right to be consulted. The first idea that presents itself 
in speaking of means is that of something external to the ob- 
ject, and having no share in the object itself. But merely 
natural things — even the commonest lifeless objects — used as 
means, must be of such a kind as adapts them to their purpose ; 
they must possess something in common with it. Human be- 
ings least of all sustain the bare external relation of mere 
means to the great ideal aim. Not only do they in the very 
act of realizing it, make it the occasion of satisfying personal 
desires, whose purport is diverse from that aim — but they share 
in that ideal aim itself ; and are for that very reason objects of 
their own existence ; not formally merely, as the world of living 
beings generally is — whose individual life is essentially sub- 
ordinate to that of man, and is properly used up as an instru- 
ment. Men, on the contrary, are objects of existence to them- 


selves, as regards the intrinsic import of the aim in question. 
To this order belongs that in them which we would exclude 
from the category of mere means — Morality, Ethics, Re- 
ligion. That is to say, man is an object of existence in him- 
self only in virtue of the Divine that is in him — that which 
was designated at the outset as Reason; which, in view of its 
activity and power of self-determination, was called Freedom. 
And we affirm — without entering at present on the proof of 
the assertion — that Religion, Morality, etc., have their founda- 
tion and source in that principle, and so are essentially elevated 
above all alien necessity and chance. And here we must re- 
mark that individuals, to the extent of their freedom, are re- 
sponsible for the depravation and enfeeblement of morals and 
religion. This is the seal of the absolute and sublime destiny 
of man — that he knows what is good and what is evil ; that 
his Destiny is his very ability to will either good or evil — in 
one word, that he is the subject of moral imputation, imputa- 
tion not only of evil, but of good ; and not only concerning 
this or that particular matter, and all that happens ab extra, 
but also the good and evil attaching to his individual freedom. 
The brute alone is simply innocent. It would, however, de- 
mand an extensive explanation — as extensive as the analysis 
of moral freedom itself — to preclude or obviate all the misun- 
derstandings which the statement that what is called innocence 
imports the entire unconsciousness of evil — is wont to occa- 

In contemplating the fate which virtue, morality, even piety 
experience in history, we must not fall into the Litany of 
Lamentations, that the good and pious often — or for the most 
part — fare ill in the world, while the evil-disposed and wicked 
prosper. The term prosperity is used in a variety of meanings 
— riches, outward honor, and the like. But in speaking of 
something which in and for itself constitutes an aim of ex- 
istence, that so-called well or ill-faring of these or those isolated 
individuals cannot be regarded as an essential element in the 
rational order of the universe. With more justice than hap- 
piness — or a fortunate environment for individuals — it is de- 
manded of the grand aim of the world's existence, that it should 
foster, nay involve the execution and ratification of good, 
moral, righteous purposes. What makes men morally discon- 
tented (a discontent, by the bye, on which they somewhat pride 



themselves), is that they do not find the present adapted to 
the realization of aims which they hold to be right and just 
(more especially in modern times, ideals of political consti- 
tutions) ; they contrast unfavorably things as they are, with 
their idea of things as they ought to be. In this case it is not 
private interest nor passion that desires gratification, but Rea- 
son, Justice, Liberty ; and equipped with this title, the demand 
in question assumes a lofty bearing, and readily adopts a posi- 
tion not merely of discontent, but of open revolt against the 
actual condition of the world. To estimate such a feeling and 
such views aright, the demands insisted upon, and the very 
dogmatic opinions asserted, must be examined. At no time 
so much as in our own, have such general principles and 
notions been advanced, or with greater assurance. If in days 
gone by, history seems to present itself as a struggle of pas- 
sions ; in our time — though displays of passion are not want- 
ing — it exhibits partly a predominance of the struggle of no- 
tions assuming the authority of principles ; partly that of 
passions and interests essentially subjective, but under the 
mask of such higher sanctions. The pretensions thus con- 
tended for as legitimate in the name of that which has been 
stated as the ultimate aim of Reason, pass accordingly, for 
absolute aims — to the same extent as Religion, Morals, 
Ethics. Nothing, as before remarked, is now more common 
than the complaint that the ideals which imagination sets up 
are not realized — that these glorious dreams are destroyed 
by cold actuality. These Ideals — which in the voyage of life 
founder on the rocks of hard reality — may be in the first in- 
stance only subjective, and belong to the idiosyncrasy of the 
individual, imagining himself the highest and wisest. Such do 
not properly belong to this category. For the fancies which 
the individual in his isolation indulges, cannot be the model 
for universal reality ; just as universal law is not designed for 
the units of the mass. These as such may, in fact, find their 
interests decidedly thrust into the background. But by the 
term " Ideal," we also understand the ideal of Reason, of the 
Good, of the True. Poets, as e.g. Schiller, have painted such 
ideals touchingly and with strong emotion, and with the deeply 
melancholy conviction that they could not be realized. In 
affirming, on the contrary, that the Universal Reason does 
realize itself, we have indeed nothing to do with the individual 

Vol. 23 C— Classics 


empirically regarded. That admits of degrees of better and 
worse, since here chance and speciality have received au- 
thority from the Idea to exercise their monstrous power. 
Much, therefore, in particular aspects of the grand phenom- 
enon might be found fault with. This subjective fault-finding 
— which, however, only keeps in view the individual and its 
deficiency, without taking notice of Reason pervading the 
whole — is easy ; and inasmuch as it asserts an excellent inten- 
tion with regard to the good of the whole, and seems to result 
from a kindly heart, it feels authorized to give itself airs and 
assume great consequence. It is easier to discover a defi- 
ciency in individuals, in states, and in Providence, than to see 
their real import and value. For in this merely negative fault- 
finding a proud position is taken — one which overlooks the 
object, without having entered into it — without having com- 
prehended its positive aspect. Age generally makes men more 
tolerant ; youth is always discontented. The tolerance of age 
is the result of the ripeness of a judgment which, not merely 
as the result of indifference, is satisfied even with what is in- 
ferior; but, more deeply taught by the grave experience of 
life, has been led to perceive the substantial, solid worth of 
the object in question. The insight then to which — in contra- 
distinction from those ideals — philosophy is to lead us, is, that 
the real world is as it ought to be — that the truly good — the 
universal divine reason — is not a mere abstraction, but a vital 
principle capable of realizing itself. This Good, this Reason, in 
its most concrete form, is God. God governs the world ; the 
actual /orking of his government — the carrying out of his 
plan — is the History of the World. This plan philosophy 
strives to comprehend ; for only that which has been developed 
as the result of it, possesses bona Ude reality. That which does 
not accord with it, is negative, worthless existence. Before 
the pure light of this divine Idea — which is no mere Ideal — 
the phantom of a world whose events are an incoherent con- 
course of fortuitous circumstances, utterly vanishes. Philos- 
ophy wishes to discover the substantial purport, the real side, of 
the divine idea, and to justify the so much despised Reality of 
things ; for Reason is the comprehension of the Divine work. 
But as to what concerns the perversion, corruption, and ruin 
of religious, ethical, and moral purposes, and states of society 
generally, it must be affirmed that in their essence these are in- 


finite and eternal ; but that the forms they assume may be of a 
limited order, and consequently belong to the domain of mere 
nature, and be subject to the sway of chance. They are there- 
fore perishable, and exposed to decay and corruption. Religion 
and morality — in the same way as inherently universal essences 
- — have the peculiarity of being present in the individual soul, 
in the full extent of their Idea, and therefore truly and really ; 
although, thev may not manifest themselves in it in extenso, 
and are not applied to fully developed relations. The religion, 
the morality of a limited sphere of life — that of a shepherd or 
a peasant, e.g. — in its intensive concentration and limitation to 
a few perfectly simple relations of life — has infinite worth ; the 
same worth as the religion and morality of extensive knowl- 
edge, and of an existence rich in the compass of its relations and 
actions. This inner focus — this simple region of the claims of 
subjective freedom — the home of volition, resolution, and ac- 
tion — the abstract sphere of conscience — that which comprises 
the responsibility and moral value of the individual, remains 
untouched ; and is quite shut out from the noisy din of the 
World's History — including not merely external and temporal 
changes, but also those entailed by the absolute necessity in- 
separable from the realization of the Idea of Freedom itself. 
But as a general truth this must be regarded as settled, that 
whatever in the world possesses claims as noble and glorious, 
has nevertheless a higher existence above it. The claim of the 
World-Spirit rises above all special claims. 

These observations may suffice in reference to the means 
which the World-Spirit uses for realizing its Idea. Stated sim- 
ply and abstractly, this mediation involves the activity of per* 
sonal existences in whom Reason is present as their absolute, 
substantial being ; but a basis, in the first instance, still obscure 
and unknown to them. But the subject becomes more com- 
plicated and difficult when we regard individuals not merely in 
their aspect of activity, but more concretely, in conjunction 
with a particular manifestation of that activity in their religion 
and morality — forms of existence which are intimately con- 
nected with Reason, and share in its absolute claims. Here 
the relation of mere means to an end disappears, and the chief 
bearings of this seeming difficulty in reference to the absolute 
aim of Spirit have been briefly considered. 

(3) The third point to be analyzed is, therefore — what is 


the object to be realized by these means ; i.e. what is the form it 
assumes in the realm of reality. We have spoken of means; 
but in the carrying out of a subjective, limited aim, we have 
also to take into consideration the element of a material, either 
already present or which has to be procured. Thus the question 
would arise : What is the material in which the Ideal of Rea- 
son is wrought out ? The primary answer would be — Person- 
ality itself — human desires — Subjectivity generally. In human 
knowledge and volition, as its material element, Reason attains 
positive existence. We have considered subjective volition 
where it has an object which is the truth and essence of a real- 
ity, viz., where it constitutes a great world-historical passion. 
As a subjective will, occupied with limited passions, it is depen- 
dent, and can gratify its desires only within the limits of this 
dependence. But the subjective will has also a substantial life 
— a reality — in which it moves in the region of essential being, 
and has the essential itself as the object of its existence. This 
essential being is the union of the subjective with the rational 
Will : it is the moral Whole, the State, which is that form of re- 
ality in which the individual has and enjoys his freedom ; but on 
the condition of his recognizing, believing in, and willing that 
which is common to the Whole. And this must not be under- 
stood as if the subjective will of the social unit attained its grati- 
fication and enjoyment through that common Will ; as if this 
were a means provided for its benefit ; as if the individual, in 
his relations to other individuals, thus limited his freedom, in 
order that this universal limitation — the mutual constraint of 
all — might secure a small space of liberty for each. Rather, we 
affirm, are Law, Morality, Government, and they alone, the 
positive reality and completion of Freedom. Freedom of a low 
and limited order is mere caprice ; which finds its exercise in 
the sphere of particular and limited desires. 

Subjective volition — Passion — is that which sets men in ac- 
tivity, that which effects " practical " realization. The Idea is 
the inner spring of action ; the State is the actually existing, 
realized moral life. For it is the Unity of the universal, essen- 
tial Will, with that of the individual ; and this is " Morality." 
The Individual living in this unity has a moral life ; possesses 
a value that consists in this substantiality alone. Sophocles in 
his Antigone, says, " The divine commands are not of yester- 
day, nor of today ; no, they have an infinite existence, and no 


one could say whence they came." The laws of morality are 
not accidental, but are the essentially Rational. It is the very 
object of the State that what is essential in the practical activity 
of men, and in their dispositions, should be duly recognized ; 
that it should have a manifest existence, and maintain its posi- 
tion. It is the absolute interest of Reason that this moral Whole 
should exist; and herein lie the justification and merit of 
heroes who have founded states — however rude these may have 
been. In the history of the World, only those peoples can come 
under our notice which form a state. For it must be understood 
that this latter is the realization of Freedom, i.e. of the absolute 
final aim, and that it exists for its own sake. It must further be 
understood that all the worth which the human being possesses 
— all spiritual reality, he possesses only through the State. For 
his spiritual reality consists in this, that his own essence — Rea- 
son — is objectively present to him, that it possesses objective 
immediate existence for him. Thus only is he fully conscious ; 
thus only is he a partaker of morality — of a just and moral social 
and political life. For Truth is the Unity of the universal and 
subjective Will ; and the Universal is to be found in the State, 
in its laws, its universal and rational arrangements. The State 
is the Divine Idea as it exists on Earth. We have in it, there- 
fore, the object of History in a more definite shape than before ; 
that in which Freedom obtains objectivity, and lives in the en- 
joyment of this objectivity. For Law i§ the objectivity of 
Spirit ; volition in its true form. Only that will which obeys 
law, is free ; for it obeys itself — it is independent and so free. 
When the State or our country constitutes a community of ex- 
istence ; when the subjective will of man submits to laws — the 
contradiction between Liberty and Necessity vanishes. The 
Rational has necessary existence, as being the reality and sub- 
stance of things, and we are free in recognizing it as law, and 
following it as the substance of our own being. The objective 
and the subjective will are then reconciled, and present one 
identical homogeneous whole. For the morality (Sittlichkeit) 
of the State is not of that ethical (moralische) reflective kind, in 
which one's own conviction bears sway ; this latter is rather the 
peculiarity of the modern time, while the true antique morality 
is based on the principle of abiding by one's duty [to the state 
at large] . An Athenian citizen did what was required of him, 
as it were from instinct: but if I reflect on the object of my 


activity, I must have the consciousness that my will has been 
called into exercise. But morality is Duty — substantial Right 
— a " second nature " as it has been justly called ; for the first 
nature of man is his primary merely animal existence. 

The development in extenso of the Idea of the State belongs to 
the Philosophy of Jurisprudence ; but it must be observed that 
in the theories of our time various errors are current respecting 
it, which pass for established truths, and have become fixed 
prejudices. We will mention only a few of them, giving promi- 
nence to such as have a reference to the object of our history. 

The error which first meets us is the direct contradictory of 
our principle that the state presents the realization of Freedom ; 
the opinion, viz., that man is free by nature, but that in society, 
in the State — to which nevertheless he is irresistibly impelled 
— he must limit this natural freedom. That man is free by 
Nature is quite correct in one sense ; viz., that he is so accord- 
ing to the Idea of Humanity ; but we imply thereby that he is 
such only in virtue of his destiny — that he has an undeveloped 
power to become such ; for the " Nature " of an object is ex- 
actly synonymous with its " Idea." But the view in question 
imports more than this. When man is spoken of as " free by 
Nature," the mode of his existence as well as his destiny is im- 
plied. His merely natural and primary condition is intended. 
In this sense a " state of Nature " is assumed in which mankind 
at large are in the possession of their natural rights with the 
unconstrained exercise and enjoyment of their freedom. This 
assumption is not indeed raised to the dignity of the historical 
fact; it would indeed be difficult, were the attempt seriously 
made, to p.oint out any such condition as actually existing, or 
as having ever occurred. Examples of a savage state of life 
can be pointed out, but they are marked by brutal passions and 
deeds of violence ; while, however rude and simple their con- 
ditions, they involve social arrangements which (to use the 
common phrase) restrain freedom. That assumption is one of 
those nebulous images which theory produces ; an idea which 
it cannot avoid originating, but which it fathers upon real exist- 
ence, without sufficient historical justification. 

What we find such a state of Nature to be in actual experi- 
ence, answers exactly to the Idea of a merely natural condition. 
Freedom as the ideal of that which is original and natural, does 
not exist as original and natural. Rather must it be first sought 



out and won; and that by an incalculable medial discipline 
of the intellectual and moral powers. The state of Nature is, 
therefore, predominantly that of injustice and violence, of un- 
tamed natural impulses, of inhuman deeds and feelings. Limi- 
tation is certainly produced by Society and the State, but it is 
a limitation of the mere brute emotions and rude instincts ; as 
also, in a more advanced stage of culture, of the premeditated 
self-will of caprice and passion. This kind of constraint is part 
of the instrumentality by which only, the consciousness of Free- 
dom and the desire for its attainment, in its true — that is Ra- 
tional and Ideal form — can be obtained. To the Ideal of Free- 
dom, Law and Morality are indispensably requisite ; and they 
are in and for themselves, universal existences, objects and 
aims ; which are discovered only by the activity of thought, 
separating itself from the merely sensuous, and developing it- 
self, in opposition thereto ; and which must on the other hand, 
be introduced into and incorporated with the originally sensu- 
ous will, and that contrarily to its natural inclination. The 
perpetually recurring misapprehension of Freedom consists in 
regarding that term only in its formal, subjective sense, ab- 
stracted from its essential objects and aims ; thus a constraint 
put upon impulse, desire, passion — pertaining to the particular 
individual as such — a limitation of caprice and self-will is re- 
garded as a fettering of Freedom. We should on the contrary 
look upon such limitation as the indispensable proviso of eman- 
cipation. Society and the State are the very conditions in 
which Freedom is realized. 

We must notice a second view, contravening the principle of 
the development of moral relations into a legal form. The 
patriarchal condition is regarded — either in reference to the en- 
tire race of man, or to some branches of it — as exclusively that 
condition of things, in which the legal element is combined with 
a due recognition of the moral and emotional parts of our 
nature; and in which justice as united with these, truly and 
really influences the intercourse of the social units. The basis 
of the patriarchal condition is the family relation ; which de- 
velops the primary form of conscious morality, succeeded by 
that of the State as its second phase. The patriarchal condition 
is one of transition, in which the family has already advanced 
to the position of a race or people ; where the union, therefore, 
has already ceased to be simply a bond of love and confidence, 


and has become one of plighted service. We must first examine 
the ethical principle of the Family. The Family may be reck- 
oned as virtually a single person ; since its members have either 
mutually surrendered their individual personality, (and conse- 
quently their legal position towards each other, with the rest of 
their particular interests and desires) as in the case of the 
Parents; or have not yet attained such an independent per- 
sonality — (the Children — who are primarily in that merely 
natural condition already mentioned). They live, therefore, in 
a unity of feeling, love, confidence, and faith in each other. And 
in a relation of natural love, the one individual has the con- 
sciousness of himself in the consciousness of the other ; he lives 
out of self; and in this mutual self-renunciation each regains 
the life that had been virtually transferred to the other ; gains, 
in fact, that other's existence and his own, as involved with that 
other. The farther interests connected with the necessities and 
external concerns of life, as well as the development that has 
to take place within their circle, i.e. of the children, constitute 
a common object for the members of the Family. The Spirit 
of the Family — the Penates — form one substantial being, as 
much as the Spirit of a People in the State ; and morality in 
both cases consists in a feeling, a consciousness, and a will, not 
limited to individual personality and interest, but embracing 
the common interests of the members generally. But this 
unity is in the case of the Family essentially one of feeling; not 
advancing beyond the limits of the merely natural. The piety 
of the Family relation should be respected in the highest degree 
by the State ; by its means the State obtains as its members 
individuals who are already moral (for as mere persons they are 
not) and who in uniting to form a state bring with them that 
sound basis of a political edifice — the capacity of feeling one 
with a Whole. But the expansion of the Family to a patriarchal 
unity carries us beyond the ties of blood-relationship — the sim- 
ply natural elements of that basis ; and outside of these limits 
the members of the community must enter upon the position 
of independent personality. A review of the patriarchal condi- 
tion, in extenso, would lead us to give special attention to the 
Theocratical Constitution. The head of the patriarchal clan 
is also its priest. If the Family in its general relations, is not 
yet separated from civic society and the state, the separation of 
religion from it has also not yet taken place ; and so much the 



less since the piety of the hearth is itself a profoundly subjective 
state of feeling. 

We have considered two aspects of Freedom, — the objective 
and the subjective ; if, therefore, Freedom is asserted to con- 
sist in the individuals of a State all agreeing in its arrangements, 
it is evident that only the subjective aspect is regarded. The 
natural inference from this principle is, that no law can be valid 
without the approval of all. This difficulty is attempted* to be 
obviated by the decision that the minority must yield to the 
majority ; the majority therefore bear the sway. But long ago 
J. J. Rousseau remarked that in that case there would be no 
longer freedom, for the will of the minority would cease to be re- 
spected. At the Polish Diet each single member had to give 
his consent before any political step could be taken ; and this 
kind of freedom it was that ruined the State. Besides, it is a 
dangerous and false prejudice, that the People alone have rea- 
son and insight, and know what justice is; for each popular 
faction may represent itself as the People, and the question as 
to what constitutes the State is one of advanced science, and not 
of popular decision. 

If the principle of regard for the individual will is recog- 
nized as the only basis of political liberty, viz., that nothing 
should be done by or for the State to which all the members 
of the body politic have not given their sanction, we have, 
properly speaking, no Constitution. The only arrangement that 
would be necessary, would be, first, a centre having no will 
of its own, but which should take into consideration what ap- 
peared to be the necessities of the State ; and, secondly, a con- 
trivance for calling the members of the State together, for tak- 
ing the votes, and for performing the arithmetical operations 
of reckoning and comparing the number of votes for the differ- 
ent propositions, and thereby deciding upon them. The State 
is an abstraction, having even its generic existence in its citizens ; 
but it is an actuality, and its simply generic existence must em- 
body itself in individual will and activity. The want of govern- 
ment and political administration in general is felt ; this neces- 
sitates the selection and separation from the rest of those who 
have to take the helm in political affairs, to decide concerning 
them, and to give orders to other citizens, with a view to the 
execution of their plans. If e.g. even the people in a Democracy 
resolve on a war, a genev al must head the army. It is only by 


a Constitution that the abstraction — the State — attains life and 
reality; but this involves the distinction between those who 
command and those who obey. — Yet obedience seems incon- 
sistent with liberty, and those who command appear to do the 
very opposite of that which the fundamental idea of the State, 
viz. that of Freedom, requires. It is, however, urged that — 
though the distinction between commanding and obeying is 
absolutely necessary, because affairs could not go on without it 
— and indeed this seems only a compulsory limitation, external 
to and even contravening freedom in the abstract — the consti- 
tution should be at least so framed, that the citizens may obey 
as little as possible, and the smallest modicum of free volition 
be left to the commands of the superiors ; — that the substance 
of that for which subordination is necessary, even in its most 
important bearings, should be decided and resolved on by the 
People — by the will of many or of all the citizens ; though it 
is supposed to be thereby provided that the State should be 
possessed of vigor and strength as a reality — an individual 
unity. — The primary consideration is, then, the distinction be- 
tween the governing and the governed, and the political consti- 
tutions in the abstract have been rightly divided into Monarchy, 
Aristocracy, and Democracy ; which gives occasion, however, 
to the remark that Monarchy itself must be further divided into 
Despotism and Monarchy proper ; that in all the divisions to 
which the leading Idea gives rise, only the generic character 
is to be made prominent — it being not intended thereby that 
the particular category under review should be exhausted as 
a Form, Order, or Kind in its concrete development. But es- 
pecially it must be observed, that the above-mentioned divi- 
sions admit of a multitude of particular modifications — not 
only such as lie within the limits of those classes themselves — 
but also such as are mixtures of several of these essentially dis- 
tinct classes, and which are consequently misshapen, unstable, 
and inconsistent forms. In such a collision, the concerning 
question is, what is the best constitution; that is, by what arrange- 
ment, organization, or mechanism of the power of the State 
its object can be most surely attained. This object may indeed 
be variously understood ; for instance, as the calm enjoyment 
of life on the part of the citizens, or as Universal Happiness. 
Such aims have suggested the so-called Ideals of Constitutions, 
and — as a particular branch of the subject — Ideals of the Edu- 


cation of Princes (Fenelon), or of the governing body — the 
aristocracy at large (Plato) ; for the chief point they treat of is 
the condition of those subjects who stand at the head of affairs : 
and in these Ideals the concrete details of political organization 
are not at all considered. The inquiry into the best constitu- 
tion is frequently treated as if not only the theory were an affair 
of subjective independent conviction, but as if the introduction 
of a constitution recognized as the best — or as superior to 
others — could be the result of a resolve adopted in this theo- 
retical manner ; as if the form of a constitution were a matter 
of free choice, determined by nothing else but reflection. Of 
this artless fashion was that deliberation — not indeed of the 
Persian people, but of the Persian grandees, who had conspired 
to overthrow the pseudo-Smerdis and the Magi, after their un- 
dertaking had succeeded, and when there was no scion of the 
royal family living— as to what constitution they should intro- 
duce into Persia; and Herodotus gives an equally naive ac- 
count of this deliberation. 

In the present day, the Constitution of a country and people 
is not represented as so entirely dependent on free and delib- 
erate choice. The fundamental but abstractly (and therefore 
imperfectly) entertained conception of Freedom, has resulted 
in the Republic being very generally regarded — in theory — 
as the only just and true political constitution. Many even, 
who occupy elevated official positions uncler monarchical con- 
stitutions — so far from being opposed to this idea — are actually 
its supporters; only they see that such a constitution, though 
the best, cannot be realized under all circumstances; and that 
— while men are what they are — we must be satisfied with less 
freedom; the monarchical constitution — under the given cir- 
cumstances, and the present moral condition of the people — 
being even regarded as the most advantageous. In this view 
also, the necessity of a particular constitution is made to de- 
pend on the condition of the people in such a way as if the 
latter were non-essential and accidental. This representation 
is founded on the distinction which the reflective understanding 
makes between an idea and the corresponding reality ; holding 
to an abstract and consequently untrue idea ; not grasping it 
in its completeness, or — which is virtually, though not in point 
of form, the same — not taking a concrete view of a people and 
a state. We shall have to show further on that the constitution 


adopted by a people makes one substance — one spirit — with its 
religion, its art and philosophy, or, at least, with its concep- 
tions and thoughts — its culture generally; not to expatiate 
upon the additional influences, ab extra, of climate, of neigh- 
bors, of its place in the World. A State is an individual totality, 
of which you cannot select any particular side, although a 
supremely important one, such as its political constitution; 
and deliberate and decide respecting it in that isolated form. 
Not only is that constitution most intimately connected with 
and dependent on those other spiritual forces; but the form 
of the entire moral and intellectual individuality — comprising 
all the forces it embodies — is only a step in the development of 
the grand Whole — with its place preappointed in the process; 
a fact which gives the highest sanction to the constitution in 
question, and establishes its absolute necessity. — The origin 
of a state involves imperious lordship on the one hand, instinc- 
tive submission on the other. But even obedience — lordly 
power, and the fear inspired by a ruler — in itself implies some 
degree of voluntary connection. Even in barbarous states this 
is the case; it is not the isolated will of individuals that pre- 
vails; individual pretensions are relinquished, and the general 
will is the essential bond of political union. This unity of the 
general and the particular is the Idea itself, manifesting itself 
as a state, and which subsequently undergoes further develop- 
ment within itself. The abstract yet necessitated process in the 
development of truly independent states is as follows: — They 
begin with regal power, whether of patriarchal or military ori- 
gin. In the next phase, particularity and individuality assert 
themselves in the form of Aristocracy and Democracy. Lastly, 
we have the subjection of these separate interests to a single 
power ; but which can be absolutely none other than one out- 
side of which those spheres have an independent position, viz., 
the Monarchical. Two phases of royalty, therefore, must be 
distinguished — a primary and a secondary one. This process 
is necessitated, so that the form of government assigned to 
a particular stage of development must present itself: it is 
therefore no matter of choice, but is that form which is adapted 
to the spirit of the people. 

In a Constitution the main feature of interest is the self- 
development of the rational, that is, the political condition of 
a people; the setting free of the successive elements of the 


Idea: so that the several powers in the State manifest them- 
selves as separate — attain their appropriate and special perfec- 
tion — and yet in this independent condition, work together for 
one object, and are held together by it — i.e., form an organic 
whole. The State is thus the embodiment of rational freedom, 
realizing and recognizing itself in an objective form. For its 
objectivity consists in this — that its successive stages are not 
merely ideal, but are present in an appropriate reality; and 
that in their separate and several working, they are absolutely 
merged in that agency by which the totality — the soul — the 
individuate unity — is produced, and of which it is the result. 

The State is the Idea of Spirit in the external manifestation 
of human Will and its Freedom. It is to the State, therefore, 
that change in the aspect of History indissolubly attaches itself ; 
and the successive phases of the Idea manifest themselves in it 
as distinct political principles. The Constitutions under which 
World-Historical peoples have reached their culmination, are 
peculiar to them ; and therefore do not present a generally ap- 
plicable political basis. Were it otherwise, the differences of 
similar constitutions would consist only in a peculiar method 
of expanding and developing that generic basis ; whereas they 
really originate in diversity of principle. From the comparison 
therefore of the political institutions of the ancient World-His- 
torical peoples, it so happens, that for theonost recent principle 
of a Constitution — for the principle of our own times — nothing 
(so to speak) can be learned. In science and art it is quite 
otherwise ; e.g., the ancient philosophy is so decidedly the basis 
of the modern, that it is inevitably contained in the latter, and 
constitutes its basis. In this case the relation is that of a con- 
tinuous development of the same structure, whose foundation- 
stone, walls, and roof have remained what they were. In Art, 
the Greek itself, in its original form, furnishes us the best 
models. But in regard to political constitution, it is quite other- 
wise : here the Ancient and the Modern have not their essential 
principle in common. Abstract definitions and dogmas respect- 
ing just government — importing that intelligence and virtue 
ought to bear sway — are, indeed, common to both. But noth- 
ing is so absurd as to look to Greeks, Romans, or Orientals, 
for models for the political arrangements of our time. From 
the East may be derived beautiful pictures of a patriarchal 
condition, of paternal government, and of devotion to it on 


the part of peoples; from Greeks and Romans, descriptions 
of popular liberty. Among the latter we find the idea of a 
Free Constitution admitting all the citizens to a share in de- 
liberations and resolves respecting the affairs and laws of the 
Commonwealth. In our times, too, this is its general accep- 
tation; only with this modification, that — since our states are 
so large, and there are so many of " the Many," the latter — 
direct action being impossible — should by the indirect method 
of elective substitution express their concurrence with resolves 
affecting the common weal; that is, that for legislative pur- 
poses generally, the people should be represented by deputies. 
The so-called Representative Constitution is that form of gov- 
ernment with which we connect the idea of a free constitution ; 
and this notion has become a rooted prejudice. On this theory 
People and Government are separated. But there is a perversity 
in this antithesis ; an ill-intentioned ruse designed to insinuate 
that the People are the totality of the State. Besides, the basis 
of this view is the principle of isolated individuality — the abso- 
lute validity of the subjective will — a dogma which we have 
already investigated. The great point is, that Freedom in its 
Ideal conception has not subjective will and caprice for its 
principle, but the recognition of the universal will; and that 
the process by which Freedom is realized is the free develop- 
ment of its successive stages. The subjective will is a merely 
formal determination — a carte blanche — not including what it 
is that is willed. Only the rational will is that universal prin- 
ciple which independently determines and unfolds its own be- 
ing, and develops its successive elemental phases as organic 
members. Of this Gothic-cathedral architecture the ancients 
knew nothing. 

At an earlier stage of the discussion we established the two 
elemental considerations : first, the idea of freedom as the abso- 
lute and final aim ; secondly, the means for realizing it, i.e., the 
subjective side of knowledge and will, with its life, movement, 
and activity. We then recognized the State as the moral Whole 
and the R.eality of Freedom, and consequently as the objective 
unity of these two elements. For although we make this dis- 
tinction into two aspects for our consideration, it must be 
remarked that they are intimately connected; and that their 
connection is involved in the idea of each when examined sep- 
arately. We have, on the one hand, recognized the Idea in 


the definite form of Freedom conscious of and willing itself — 
having itself alone as its object: involving at the same time, 
the pure and simple Idea of Reason, and likewise, that which 
we have called subject — self-consciousness — Spirit actually ex- 
isting in the World. If, on the other hand, we consider Sub- 
jectivity, we find that subjective knowledge and will is Thought. 
But by the very act of thoughtful cognition and volition, I will 
the universal object — the substance of absolute Reason. We 
observe, therefore, an essential union between the objective side 
— the Idea — and the subjective side — the personality that con- 
ceives and wills it. — The objective existence of this union is the 
State, which is therefore the basis and centre of the other con- 
crete elements of the life of a people — of Art, of Law, of Mor- 
als, of Religion, of Science. All the activity of Spirit has only 
this object — the becoming conscious of this union, i.e., of its 
own Freedom. Among the forms of this conscious union Re- 
ligion occupies the highest position. In it, Spirit— rising above 
the limitations of temporal and secular existence — becomes 
conscious of the Absolute Spirit, and in this consciousness of 
the self-existent Being, renounces its individual interest; it 
lays this aside in Devotion — a state of mind in which it refuses 
to occupy itself any longer with the limited and particular. 
By Sacrifice man expresses his renunciation of his property, 
his will, his individual feelings. The religious concentration 
of the soul appears in the form of feeling; it nevertheless 
passes also into reflection; a form of worship (cultus) is a 
result of reflection. The second form of the union of the ob- 
jective and subjective in the human spirit is Art. This ad- 
vances farther into the realm of the actual and sensuous than 
Religion. In its noblest walk it is occupied with representing, 
not indeed, the Spirit of God, but certainly the Form of God ; 
and in its secondary aims, that which is divine and spiritual 
generally. Its office is 1 to render visible the Divine ; presenting 
it to the imaginative and intuitive faculty. But the True is the 
object not only of conception and feeling, as in Religion — and 
of intuition, as in Art — but also of the thinking faculty; and 
this gives us the third form of the union in question — Philos- 
ophy. This is consequently the highest, freest, and wisest 
phase. Of course we are not intending to investigate these 
three phases here; they have only suggested themselves in 


virtue of their occupying the same general ground as the ob- 
ject here considered — the State. 

The general principle which manifests itself and becomes an 
object of consciousness in the State — the form under which 
all that the State includes is brought — is the whole of that cycle 
of phenomena which constitutes the culture of a nation. But 
the definite substance that receives the form of universality, 
and exists in that concrete reality which is the State — is the" 
Spirit of the People itself. The actual State is animated by this 
spirit, in all its particular affairs — its Wars, Institutions, etc. 
But man must also attain a conscious realization of this his 
Spirit and essential nature, and of his original identity with it. 
For we said that morality is the identity of the subjective or 
personal with the universal will. Now the mind must give 
itself an express consciousness of this; and the focus of this 
knowledge is Religion. Art and Science are only various as- 
pects and forms of the same substantial being. — In considering 
Religion, the chief point of inquiry is, whether it recognizes 
the True — the Idea — only in its separate, abstract form, or in 
its true unity; in separation — God being represented in an 
abstract form as the Highest Being, Lord of Heaven and Earth, 
living in a remote region far from human actualities — or in 
its unity — God, as Unity of the Universal and Individual ; the 
Individual itself assuming the aspect of positive and real ex- 
istence in the idea of the Incarnation. Religion is the sphere 
in which a nation gives itself the definition of that which it 
regards as the True. A definition contains everything that 
belongs to the essence of an object; reducing its nature to its 
simple characteristic predicate, as a mirror for every predicate 
— the generic soul pervading all its details. The conception 
of God, therefore, constitutes the general basis of a people's 

In this aspect, religion stands in the closest connection with 
the political principle. Freedom can exist only where Individ- 
uality is recognized as having its positive and real existence 
in the Divine Being. The connection may be further explained 
thus: — Secular existence, as merely temporal — occupied with 
particular interests — is consequently only relative and unau- 
thorized ; and receives its validity only in as far as the universal 
soul that pervades it- — its principle — receives absolute validity; 
which it cannot have unless it is recognized as the definite 


manifestation, the phenomenal existence of the Divine Essence. 
On this account it is that the State rests on Religion. We 
hear this often repeated in our times, though for the most part 
nothing further is meant than that individual subjects as God- 
fearing men would be more disposed and ready to perform 
their duty ; since obedience to King and Law so naturally fol- 
lows in the train of reverence for God. This reverence, in- 
deed, since it exalts the general over the special, may even turn 
upon the latter — become fanatical — and work with incendiary 
and destructive violence against the State, its institutions, and 
arrangements. Religious feeling, therefore, it is tho light, should 
be sober — kept in a certain degree of coolness — that it may not 
storm against and bear down that which should be defended 
and preserved by it. The possibility of such a catastrophe is 
at least latent in it. 

While, however, the correct sentiment is adopted, that the 
State is based on Religion, the position thus assigned to Re- 
ligion supposes the State already to exist ; and that subse- 
quently, in order to maintain it, Religion must be brought into 
it — in buckets and bushels as it were — and impressed upon 
people's hearts. It is quite true that men must be trained to 
religion, but not as to something whose existence has yet to 
begin. For in affirming that the State is based on Religion 
— that it has its roots in it — we virtually assert that the former 
has proceeded from the latter; and that this derivation is 
going on now and will always continue; i.e., the principles 
of the State must be regarded as valid in and for themselves, 
which can only be in so far as they are recognized as deter- 
minate manifestations of the Divine Nature. The form of 
Religion, therefore, decides that of the State and its constitu- 
tion. The latter actually originated in the particular religion 
adopted by the nation; so that, in fact, the Athenian or the 
Roman State was possible only in connection with the specific 
form of Heathenism existing among the respective peoples; 
just as a Catholic State has a spirit and constitution different 
from that of a Protestant one. 

If that outcry — that urging and striving for the implanta- 
tion of Religion in the community — were an utterance of an- 
guish and a call for help, as it often seems to be, expressing 
the danger of religion having vanished, or being about to 
vanish entirely from the State — that would be fearful indeed — ■ 


worse, in fact, than this outcry supposes; for it implies the 
belief in a resource against the evil, viz., the implantation and 
inculcation of religion; whereas religion is by no means a 
thing to be so produced; its self-production (and there can be 
no other) lies much deeper. 

Another and opposite folly which we meet with in our time, 
is that of pretending to invent and carry out political consti- 
tutions independently of religion. The Catholic confession, 
although sharing the Christian name with the Protestant, does 
not concede to the State an inherent Justice and Morality — 
a concession which in the Protestant principle is fundamental. 
This tearing away of the political morality of the Constitution 
from its natural connection, is necessary to the genius of that 
religion, inasmuch as it does not recognize Justice and Morality 
as independent and substantial. But thus excluded from in- 
trinsic worth — torn away from their last refuge — the sanctuary 
of conscience — the calm retreat where religion has its abode — 
the principles and institutions of political legislation are desti- 
tute of a real centre, to the same degree as they are compelled 
to remain abstract and indefinite. 

Summing up what has been said of the State, we find that 
we have been led to call its vital principle, as actuating the 
individuals who compose it — Morality. The State, its laws, 
its arrangements, constitute the rights of its members; its 
natural features, its mountains, air, and waters, are their coun- 
try, their fatherland, their outward material property; the 
history of this State, their deeds; what their ancestors have 
produced belongs to them and lives in their memory. All 
is their possession, just as they are possessed by it; for it 
constitutes their existence, their being. 

Their imagination is occupied with the ideas thus presented, 
while the adoption of these laws, and of a fatherland so condi- 
tioned is the expression of their will. It is this matured totality 
Avhich thus constitutes one Being, the spirit of one People. 
To it the individual members belong; each unit is the Son 
of his Nation, and at the same time — in as far as the State 
to which he belongs is undergoing development — the Son of 
his Age. None remains behind it, still less advances beyond it. 
This spiritual Being (the Spirit of his Time) is his; he is a 
representative of it; it is that in which he originated, and in 
which he lives. Among the Athenians the word Athens had a 


double import; suggesting- primarily a complex of political 
institutions, but no less, in the second place, that Goddess who 
represented the Spirit of the People and its unity. 

This Spirit of a People is a determinate and particular Spirit, 
and is, as just stated, further modified by the degree of its 
historical development. This Spirit, then, constitutes the basis 
and substance of those other forms of a nation's consciousness, 
which have been noticed. For Spirit in its self-consciousness 
must become an object of contemplation to itself, and objec- 
tivity involves, in the first instance, the rise of differences which 
make up a total of distinct spheres of objective spirit; in the 
same way as the Soul exists only as the complex of its facul- 
ties, which in their form of concentration in a simple unity 
produce that Soul. It is thus One Individuality which, pre- 
sented in its essence as God, is honored and enjoyed in Re- 
ligion; which is exhibited as an object of sensuous contempla- 
tion in Art; and is apprehended as an intellectual conception, 
in Philosophy. In virtue of the original identity of their es- 
sence, purport, and object, these various forms are inseparably 
united with the Spirit of the State. Only in connection with 
this particular religion, can this particular political constitution 
exist ; just as in such or such a State, such or such a Philosophy 
or order of Art. 

The remark next in order is, that each particular National 
genius is to be treated as only One Individual in the process 
of Universal History. For that history is the exhibition of the 
divine, absolute development of Spirit in its highest forms — 
that gradation by which it attains its truth and consciousness 
of itself. The forms which these grades of progress assume 
are the characteristic " National Spirits " of History ; the pe- 
culiar tenor of their moral life, of their Government, their Art, 
Religion, and Science. To realize these grades is the boundless 
impulse of the World- Spirit — the goal of its irresistible urging; 
for this division into organic members, and the full develop- 
ment of each, is its Idea. — Universal History is exclusively 
occupied with showing how Spirit comes to a recognition and 
adoption of the Truth : the dawn of knowledge appears ; it be- 
gins to discover salient principles, and at last it arrives at full 

Having, therefore, learned the abstract characteristics of 
the nature of Spirit, the means which it uses to realize its 



Idea, and the shape assumed by it in its complete realization in 
phenomenal existence — namely, the State — nothing further re- 
mains for this introductory section to contemplate but 

III. The course of the World's History. — The mutations 
which history presents have been long characterized in the 
general, as an advance to something better, more perfect. The 
changes that take place in Nature — how infinitely manifold 
soever they may be — exhibit only a perpetually self-repeating 
cycle ; in Nature there happens " nothing new under the sun," 
and the multiform play of its phenomena so far induces a feel- 
ing of ennui; only in those changes which take place in the 
region of Spirit does anything new arise. This peculiarity in 
the world of mind has indicated in the case of man an altogether 
different destiny from that of merely natural objects — in which 
we find always one and the same stable character, to which all 
change reverts; — namely, a real capacity for change, and that 
for the better — an impulse of perfectibility. This principle, 
which reduces change itself under a law, has met with an un- 
favorable reception from religions — such as the Catholic — and 
from States claiming as their just right a stereotyped, or at least 
a stable position. If the mutability of worldly things in gen- 
eral — political constitutions, for instance — is conceded, either 
Religion (as the Religion of Truth) is absolutely excepted, or 
the difficulty escaped by ascribing changes, revolutions, and 
abrogations of immaculate theories and institutions, to acci- 
dents or imprudence — but principally to the levity and evil 
passions of man. The principle of Perfectibility indeed is al- 
most as indefinite a term as mutability in general ; it is without 
scope or goal, and has no standard by which to estimate the 
changes in question : the improved, more perfect, state of things 
towards which it professedly tends is altogether undetermined. 

The principle of Development involves also the existence of 
a latent germ of being — a capacity or potentiality striving to 
realize itself. This formal conception finds actual existence 
in Spirit ; which has the History of the World for its theatre, 
its possession, and the sphere of its realization. It is not of 
such a nature as to be tossed to and fro amid the superficial play 
of accidents, but is rather the absolute arbiter of things ; en- 
tirely unmoved by contingencies, which, indeed, it applies and 
manages for its own purposes. Development, however, is also 
a property of organized natural objects. Their existence pre- 


sents itself, not as an exclusively dependent one, subjected to 
external changes, but as one which expands itself in virtue 
of an internal unchangeable principle; a simple essence — 
whose existence, i.e., as a germ, is primarily simple — but which 
subsequently develops a variety of parts, that become involved 
with other objects, and consequently live through a continuous 
process of changes ; — a process nevertheless, that results in the 
very contrary of change, and is even transformed into a vis 
conservatrix of the organic principle, and the form embodying 
it. Thus the organized individuum produces itself ; it expands 
itself actually to what it was always potentially. — So Spirit is 
only that which it attains by its own efforts; it makes itself 
actually what it always was potentially. — That development (of 
natural organisms) takes place in a direct, unopposed, unhin- 
dered manner. Between the Idea and its realization — the es- 
sential constitution of the original germ and the conformity to 
it of the existence derived from it — no disturbing influence can 
intrude. But in relation to Spirit it is quite otherwise. The 
realization of its Idea is mediated by consciousness and will; 
these very faculties are, in the first instance, sunk in their pri- 
mary merely natural life; the first object and goal of their 
striving is the realization of their merely natural destiny — 
but which, since it is Spirit that animates it, is possessed of 
vast attractions and displays great power and (moral) richness. 
Thus Spirit is at war with itself; it has to overcome itself 
as its most formidable obstacle. That development which in 
the sphere of Nature is a peaceful growth is, in that of spirit, 
a severe, a mighty conflict with itself. What Spirit really 
strives for is the realization of its Ideal being; but in doing 
so, it hides that goal from its own vision, and is proud and well 
satisfied in this alienation from it. 

Its expansion, therefore, does not present the harmless tran- 
quillity of mere growth, as does that of organic life, but a stern 
reluctant working against itself. It exhibits, moreover, not 
the mere formal conception of development, but the attainment 
of a definite result. The goal of attainment we determined at 
the outset : it is Spirit in its Completeness, in its essential nature, 
i.e., Freedom. This is the fundamental object, and therefore 
also the leading principle of the development — that whereby it 
receives meaning and importance (as in the Roman history, 
Rome is the object — consequently that which directs our con- 


sideration of the facts related) ; as, conversely, the phenomena 
of the process have resulted from this principle alone, and only 
as referred to it, possess a sense of value. There are many con- 
siderable periods in History in which this development seems 
to have been intermitted; in which, we might rather say, the 
whole enormous gain of previous culture appears to have been 
entirely lost ; after which, unhappily, a new commencement has 
been necessary, made in the hope of recovering — by the assist- 
ance of some remains saved from the wreck of a former civiliza- 
tion, and by dint of a renewed incalculable expenditure of 
strength and time — one of the regions which had been an an- 
cient possession of that civilization. We behold also continued 
processes of growth ; structures and systems of culture in par- 
ticular spheres, rich in kind, and well developed in every direc- 
tion. The merely formal and indeterminate view of develop- 
ment in general can neither assign to one form of expansion 
superiority over the other, nor render comprehensible the object 
of that decay of older periods of growth; but must regard 
such occurrences — or, to speak more particularly, the retro- 
cessions they exhibit — as external contingencies ; and can only 
judge of particular modes of development from indeterminate 
points of view ; which — since the development, as such, is all 
in all — are relative and not absolute goals of attainment. 

Universal History exhibits the gradation in the development 
of that principle whose substantial purport is the consciousness 
of Freedom. The analysis of the successive grades, in their 
abstract form, belongs to Logic ; in their concrete aspect to 
the Philosophy of Spirit. Here it is sufficient to state that the 
first step in the process presents that immersion, of Spirit in 
Nature which has been already referred to; the second shows 
it as advancing to the consciousness of its freedom. But this 
initial separation from Nature is imperfect and partial, since 
it is derived immediately from the merely natural state, is 
consequently related to it, and is still encumbered with it as 
an essentially connected element. The third step is the elevation 
of the soul from this still limited and special form of freedom 
to its pure universal form ; that state in which the spiritual 
essence attains the consciousness and feeling of itself. These 
grades are the ground-principles of the general process ; but 
how each of them on the other hand involves within itself 
a process of formation — constituting the links in a dialectic 


of transition — to particularize this must be reserved for the 

Here we have only to indicate that Spirit begins with a 
germ of infinite possibility, but only possibility — containing 
its substantial existence in an undeveloped form, as the object 
and goal which it reaches only in its resultant — full reality. 
In actual existence Progress appears as an advancing from the 
imperfect to the more perfect; but the former must not be 
understood abstractly as only the imperfect, but as something 
which involves the very opposite of itself — the so-called perfect 
— as a germ or impulse. So — reflectively, at least — possibility 
points to something destined to become actual ; the Aristo- 
telian 8uva/u<; is also potentia, power and might. Thus the 
Imperfect, as involving its opposite, is a contradiction, which 
certainly exists, but which is continually annulled and solved ; 
the instinctive movement — the inherent impulse in the life of 
the soul — to break through the rind of mere nature, sensu- 
ousness, and that which is alien to it, and to attain to the light 
of consciousness, i.e. to itself. 

We have already made the remark how the commencement 
of the history of Spirit must be conceived so as to be in har- 
mony with its Idea — in its bearing on the representations that 
have been made of a primitive " natural condition," in which 
freedom and justice are supposed to exist, or to have existed. 
This was, however, nothing more than ah assumption of his- 
torical existence, conceived in the twilight of theorizing re- 
flection. A pretension of quite another order — not a mere 
inference of reasoning, but making the claim of historical fact, 
and that supernaturally confirmed — is put forth in connection 
with a different view that is now widely promulgated by a 
certain class of speculatists. This view takes up the idea of 
the primitive paradisiacal conditon of man, which had been 
previously expanded by the Theologians, after their fashion 
— involving, e.g., the supposition that God spoke with Adam 
in Hebrew — but remodelled to suit other requirements. The 
high authority appealed to in the first instance is the biblical 
narrative. But this depicts the primitive condition, partly only 
in the few well-known traits, but partly either as in man gener- 
ically — human nature at large — or, so far as Adam is to be 
taken as an individual, and consequently one person — as exist- 
ing and completed in this one, or only in one human pair. The 


biblical account by no means justifies us in imagining a people, 
and a historical condition of such people, existing in that prim- 
itive form ; still less does it warrant us in attributing to them 
the possession of a perfectly developed knowledge of God and 
Nature. " Nature," so the fiction runs, " like a clear mirror of 
God's creation, had originally lain revealed and transparent to 
the unclouded eye of man." * Divine Truth is imagined to 
have been equally manifest. It is even hinted, though left in 
some degree of obscurity, that in this primary condition men 
were in possession of an indefinitely extended and already ex- 
panded body of religious truths immediately revealed by God. 
This theory affirms that all religions had their historical com- 
mencement in this primitive knowledge, and that they polluted 
and obscured the original Truth by the monstrous creations of 
error and depravity; though in all the mythologies invented 
by Error, traces of that origin and of those primitive true 
dogmas are supposed to be present and cognizable. An im- 
portant interest, therefore, accrues to the investigation of the 
history of ancient peoples, that, viz., of the endeavor to trace 
their annals up to the point where such fragments of the pri- 
mary revelation are to be met with in greater purity than lower 

We owe to the interest which has occasioned these investiga- 
tions, very much that is valuable ; but this investigation bears 
direct testimony against itself, for it would seem to be awaiting 
the issue of an historical demonstration of that which is pre- 

* Fr. von Schlegel, " Philosophy of clearer evidence in point of subject mat- 
History," p. 91, Bonn's Standard Li- ter. The savans, M. Abel Remusat and 
brary. M. Saint Martin, on the one hand, have 

t We have to thank this interest for undertaken the most meritorious investi- 
many valuable discoveries in Oriental gations in the Chinese literature, with a 
literature, and for a renewed study of view to make this also a base of opera- 
treasures previously known, in the de- tions for researches in the Mongolian 
partment of ancient Asiatic Culture, and, if such were possible, in the Thibe- 
Mythology, Religions, and History. In tan ; on the other hand, Baron von 
Catholic countries, where a refined lit- Eckstein — in his way (i.e., adopting 
erary taste prevails, Governments have from Germany superficial physical con- 
yielded to the requirements of specula- ceptions and mannerisms, in the style of 
tive inquiry, and have felt the necessity Fr. v. Schlegel, though with more genial- 
of allying themselves with learning and ity than the latter) in his periodical, " Le 
philosophy. Eloquently and impressive- Catholique " — has furthered the cause of 
ly has the Abbe Lamennais reckoned it that primitive Catholicism generally, and 
among the criteria of the true religion, in particular has gained for the savans 
that it must be the universal — that is, of the Congregation the support of the 
catholic — and the oldest in date; and the Government; so that it has even set on 
Congregation has labored zealously and foot expeditions to the East, in order to 
diligently in France towards rendering discover there treasures still concealed; 
such assertions no longer mere pulpit (from which further disclosures have 
tirades and authoritative dicta, such as been anticipated, respecting profound 
were deemed sufficient formerly. The theological questions, particularly on the 
religion of Buddha— a god-man — which higher antiquity and sources of Buddh- 
has prevailed to such an enormous ex- ism), and with a view to promote the in- 
tent, has especially attracted attention. terests of Catholicism by this circuitous 
The Indian Timurtis, as also the Chinese but scientifically interesting method, 
abstraction of the Trinity, has furnished 


supposed by it as historically established. That advanced con- 
dition of the knowledge of God, and of other scientific, e.g., 
astronomical, knowledge (such as has been falsely attributed to 
the Hindoos) ; and the assertion that such a condition occurred 
at the very beginning of History — or that the religions of 
various nations were traditionally derived from it, and have 
developed themselves in degeneracy and depravation (as is rep- 
resented in the rudely-conceived so-called " Emanation Sys- 
tem ") ; — all these are suppositions which neither have, nor — 
if we may contrast with their arbitrary subjective origin, the 
true conception of History — can attain historical confirmation. 
The only consistent and worthy method which philosophical 
investigation can adopt is to take up History where Rationality 
begins to manifest itself in the actual conduct of the World's 
affairs (not where it is merely an undeveloped potentiality) — 
where a condition of things is present in which it realizes itself 
in consciousness, will and action. The inorganic existence of 
Spirit — that of abstract Freedom — unconscious torpidity in re- 
spect to good and evil (and consequently to laws), or, if we 
please to term it so, " blessed ignorance " — is itself not a subject 
of History. Natural, and at the same time religious morality, is 
the piety of the family. In this social relation, morality consists 
in the members behaving towards each other not as individuals 
— possessing an independent will ; not as persons. The Family 
therefore, is excluded from that process of development in which 
History takes its rise. But when this self-involved spiritual 
Unity steps beyond this circle of feeling and natural love, and 
first attains the consciousness of personality, we have that dark, 
dull centre of indifference, in which neither Nature. nor Spirit 
is open and transparent ; and for which Nature and Spirit can 
become open and transparent only by means of a further proc- 
ess — a very lengthened culture of that Will at length become 
self-conscious. Consciousness alone is clearness; and is that 
alone for which God (or any other existence) can be revealed. 
In its true form — in absolute universality — nothing can be 
manifested except to consciousness made percipient of it. 
Freedom is nothing but the recognition and adoption of such 
universal substantial objects as Right and Law, and the produc- 
tion of a reality that is accordant with them — the State. Na- 
tions may have passed a long life before arriving at this their 

destination, and during this period, they may have attained 
Vol. 23 D — Classics 


considerable culture in some directions. This ante-historical 
period — consistently with what has been said — lies out of our 
plan ; whether a real history followed it, or the peoples in ques- 
tion never attained a political constitution. — It is a great dis- 
covery in history — as of a new world — which-has been made 
within rather more than the last twenty years, respecting the 
Sanscrit and the connection of the European languages with 
it. In particular, the connection of the German and Indian 
peoples has been demonstrated, with as much certainty as such 
subjects allow of. Even at the present time we know of peoples 
which scarcely form a society, much less a State, but that have 
been long known as existing; while with regard to others, 
which in their advanced condition excite our especial interest, 
tradition reaches beyond the record of the founding of the State, 
and they experienced many changes prior to that epoch. In 
the connection just referred to, between the languages of na- 
tions so widely separated, we have a result before us, which 
proves the diffusion of those nations from Asia as a centre, and 
the so dissimilar development of what had been originally re- 
lated, as an incontestable fact ; not as an inference deduced by 
that favorite method of combining, and reasoning from, cir- 
cumstances grave and trivial, which has already enriched and 
will continue to enrich history with so many fictions given out 
as facts. But that apparently so extensive range of events lies 
beyond the pale of history ; in fact preceded it. 

In our language the term History * unites the objective with 
the subjective side, and denotes quite as much the historia rerum 
gestarum, as the res gestce themselves ; on the other hand it 
comprehends not less what has happened, than the narration of 
what has happened. This union of the two meanings we must 
regard as of a higher order than mere outward accident ; we 
must suppose historical narrations to have appeared contem- 
poraneously with historical deeds and events. It is an internal 
vital principle common to both that produces them synchron- 
ously. Family memorials, patriarchal traditions, have an inter- 
est confined to the family and the clan. The uniform course 
of events which such a condition implies, is no subject of serious 
remembrance ; though distinct transactions or turns of fortune, 
may rouse Mnemosyne to form conceptions of them — in the 
same way as love and the religious emotions provoke imagina- 

• German, " Gescbicbte " from " Geschehen," to happen.— Ed. 


tion to give shape to a previously formless impulse. But it is 
the State which first presents subject-matter that is not only 
adapted to the prose of History, but involves the production of 
such history in the very progress of its own being. Instead 
of merely subjective mandates on the part of government- 
sufficing for the needs of the moment — a community that is 
acquiring a stable existence, and exalting itself into a State, 
requires formal commands and laws — comprehensive and uni- 
versally binding prescriptions ; and thus produces a record as 
well as an interest concerned with intelligent, definite — and, 
in their results — lasting transactions and occurrences; on 
which Mnemosyne, for the behoof of the perennial object of the 
formation and constitution of the State, is impelled to confer 
perpetuity. Profound sentiments generally, such as that of 
love, as also religious intuition and its conceptions, are in them- 
selves complete — constantly present and satisfying; but that 
outward' existence of a political constitution which is enshrined 
in its rational laws and customs, is an imperfect Present ; and 
cannot be thoroughly understood without a knowledge of the 

The periods — whether we suppose them to be centuries or 
millennia — that were passed by nations before history was writ- 
ten among them — and which may have been filled with revo- 
lutions, nomadic wanderings, and the strangest mutations — ■ 
are on that very account destitute of objective history, because 
they present no subjective history, no annals. We need not 
suppose that the records of such periods have accidentally per- 
ished ; rather, because they were not possible, do we find them 
wanting. Only in a State cognizant of Laws, can distinct trans- 
actions take place, accompanied by such a clear consciousness 
of them as supplies the ability and suggests the necessity of an 
enduring record. It strikes every one, in beginning to form 
an acquaintance with the treasures of Indian literature, that a 
land so rich in intellectual products, and those of the profound- 
est order of thought, has no History ; and in this respect con- 
trasts most strongly with China — an empire possessing one so 
remarkable, one going back to the most ancient times. India 
has not only ancient books relating to religion, and splendid- 
poetical productions, but also ancient codes ; the existence of 
which latter kind of literature has been mentioned as a condi- 
tion necessary to the origination of History — and yet History 


itself is not found. But in that country the impulse of organiza- 
tion, in beginning to develop social distinctions, was imme- 
diately petrified in the merely natural classification according 
to castes; so that although the laws concern themselves with 
civil rights, they make even these dependent on natural dis- 
tinctions ; and are especially occupied with determining the 
relations (Wrongs rather than Rights) of those classes towards 
each other, i.e. the privileges of the higher over the lower. Con- 
sequently, the element of morality is banished from the pomp 
of Indian life and from its political institutions. Where that 
iron bondage of distinctions derived from nature prevails, the 
connection of society is nothing but wild arbitrariness — tran- 
sient activity — or rather the play of violent emotion without 
any goal of advancement or development. Therefore no intel- 
ligent reminiscence, no object for Mnemosyne presents itself; 
and imagination — confused though profound — expatiates in a 
region, which, to be capable of History, must have had an aim 
within the domain of Reality, and, at the same time, of sub- 
stantial Freedom. 

Since such are the conditions indispensable to a history, it 
has happened that the growth of Families to Clans, of Clans to 
Peoples, and their local diffusion consequent upon this numer- 
ical increase — a series of facts which itself suggests so many 
instances of social complication, war, revolution, and ruin — a 
process which is so rich in interest, and so comprehensive in 
extent — has occurred without giving rise to History ; more- 
over, that the extension and organic growth of the empire of 
articulate sounds has itself remained voiceless and dumb — a 
stealthy, unnoticed advance. It is a fact revealed by philo- 
logical monuments, that languages, during a rude condition of 
the nations that have spoken them, have been very highly de- 
veloped ; that the human understanding occupied this theoret- 
ical region with great ingenuity and completeness. For Gram- 
mar, in its extended and consistent form, is the work of thought, 
which makes its categories distinctly visible therein. It is, 
moreover, a fact, that with advancing social and political civili- 
zation, this systematic completeness of intelligence suffers 
attrition, and language thereupon becomes poorer and ruder: 
a singular phenomenon — that the progress towards a more 
highly intellectual condition, while expanding and cultivating 
rationality, should disregard that intelligent amplitude and ex- 


pressiveness — should find it an obstruction and contrive to do 
without it. Speech is the act of theoretic intelligence in a 
special sense ; it is its external manifestation. Exercises of 
memory and imagination without language, are direct, [non- 
speculative] manifestations. But this act of theoretic intelli- 
gence itself, as also its subsequent development, and the more 
concrete class of facts connected with it — viz. the spreading 
of peoples over the earth, their separation from each other, 
their comminglings and wanderings — remain involved in the 
obscurity of a voiceless past. They are not acts of Will becom- 
ing self-conscious — of Freedom, mirroring itself in a phenom- 
enal form, and creating for itself a proper reality. Not par- 
taking of this element of substantial, veritable existence, those 
nations — notwithstanding the development of language among 
them — never advanced to the possession of a history. The rapid 
growth of language, and the progress and dispersion of Na- 
tions, assume importance and interest for concrete Reason, 
only when they have come in contact with States, or begin to 
form political constitutions themselves. 

After these remarks, relating to the form of the commencement 
of the World's History, and to that ante-historical period which 
must be excluded from it, we have to state the direction of its 
course : though here only formally. The further definition of 
the subject in the concrete comes under the head of arrange- 

Universal history — as already demonstrated — shows the de- 
velopment of the consciousness of Freedom on the part of 
Spirit, and of the consequent realization of that Freedom. This 
development implies a gradation — a series of increasingly 
adequate expressions or manifestations of Freedom, which re- 
sult from its Idea. The logical, and — as still more prominent 
— the dialectical nature of the Idea in general, viz. that it is self- 
determined — that it assumes successive forms which it succes- 
sively transcends ; and by this very process of transcending 
its earlier stages gains an affirmative, and, in fact, a richer and 
more concrete shape; — this necessity of its nature, and the 
necessary series of pure abstract forms which the Idea succes- 
sively assumes — is exhibited in the department of Logic. Here 
we need adopt only one of its results, viz. that every step in the 
process, as differing from any other, has its determinate peculiar 
principle. In history this principle is idiosyncrasy of Spirit — 


peculiar National Genius. It is within the limitations of this 
idiosyncrasy that the spirit of the nation, concretely manifested, 
expresses every aspect of its consciousness and will — the whole 
cycle of its realization. Its religion, its polity, its ethics, its 
legislation, and even its science, art, and mechanical skill, all 
bear its stamp. These special peculiarities find their key in 
that common peculiarity — the particular principle that charac- 
terizes a people ; as, on the other hand, in the facts which His- 
tory presents in detail, that common characteristic principle 
may be detected. That such or such a specific quality consti- 
tutes the peculiar genius of a people, is the element of our in- 
quiry which must be derived from experience, and historically 
proved. To accomplish this, pre-supposes not only a disci- 
plined faculty of abstraction, but an intimate acquaintance with 
the Idea. The investigator must be familiar a priori (if we like 
to call it so), with the whole circle of conceptions to which the 
principles in question belong — just as Keppler (to name the 
most illustrious example in this mode of philosophizing) must 
have been familiar a priori with ellipses, with cubes and squares, 
and with ideas of their relations, before he could discover, from 
the empirical data, those immortal " Laws " of his, which are 
none other than forms of thought pertaining to those classes of 
conceptions. He who is unfamiliar with the science that em- 
braces these abstract elementary conceptions, is as little capable 
— though he may have gazed on the firmament and the mo- 
tions of the celestial bodies for a lifetime — of understanding 
those Laws, as of discovering them. From this want of ac- 
quaintance with the ideas that relate to the development of 
Freedom, proceed a part of those objections which are brought 
against the philosophical consideration of a science usually re- 
garded as one of mere experience ; the so-called a, priori method, 
and the attempt to insinuate ideas into the empirical data of 
history, being the chief points in the indictment. Where this 
deficiency exists, such conceptions appear alien — not lying 
within the object of investigation. To minds whose training 
has been narrow and merely subjective — which have not an 
acquaintance and familiarity with ideas — they are something 
strange — not embraced in the notion and conception of the 
subject which their limited intellect forms. Hence the state- 
ment that Philosophy does not understand such sciences. It 
must, indeed, allow that it has not that kind of Understanding 


which is the prevailing one in the domain of those sciences, 
that it does not proceed according to the categories of such 
Understanding, but according to the categories of Reason — 
though at the same time recognizing that Understanding, and 
its true value and position. It must be observed that in this 
very process of scientific Understanding, it is of importance that 
the essential should be distinguished and brought into relief 
in contrast with the so-called non-essential. But in order to 
render this possible, we must know what is essential; and that is 
— in view of the History of the World in general — the Con- 
sciousness of Freedom, and the phases which this conscious- 
ness assumes in developing itself. The bearing of historical 
facts on this category, is their bearing on the truly Essential. 
Of the difficulties stated, and the opposition exhibited to com- 
prehensive conceptions in science, part must be referred to the 
inability to grasp and understand Ideas. If in Natural History 
some monstrous hybrid growth is alleged as an objection to 
the recognition of clear and indubitable classes or species, a 
sufficient reply is furnished by a sentiment often vaguely urged 
— that " the exception confirms the rule " ; i.e. that is the part 
of a well-defined rule, to show the conditions in which it applies, 
or the deficiency or hybridism of cases that are abnormal. 
Mere Nature is too weak to keep its genera and species pure, 
when conflicting with alien elementary influences. If, e.g. on 
considering the human organization in its concrete aspect, we 
assert that brain, heart, and so forth are essential to its organic 
life, some miserable abortion may be adduced, which has on the 
whole the human form, or parts of it — which has been conceived 
in a human body and has breathed after birth therefrom — in 
which nevertheless no brain and no heart is found. If such an 
instance is quoted against the general conception of a human 
being — the objector persisting in using the name, coupled with 
a superficial idea respecting it — it can be proved that a real, 
concrete human being is a truly different object ; that such a 
being must have a brain in its head, and a heart in its breast. 

A similar process of reasoning is adopted, in reference to the 
correct assertion that genius, talent, moral virtues, and senti- 
ments, and piety, may be found in every zone, under all political 
constitutions and conditions; in confirmation of which ex- 
amples are forthcoming in abundance. If, in this assertion, 
the accompanying distinctions are intended to be repudiated 


as unimportant or non-essential, reflection evidently limits 
itself to abstract categories ; and ignores the specialities of the 
object in question, which certainly fall under no principle 
recognized by such categories. That intellectual position which 
adopts such merely formal points of view, presents a vast field 
for ingenious questions, erudite views, and striking compari- 
sons; for profound seeming reflections and declamations, 
which may be rendered so much the more brilliant in proportion 
as the subject they refer to is indefinite, and are susceptible of 
new and varied forms in inverse proportion to the importance 
of the results that can be gained from them, and the certainty 
and rationality of their issues. Under such an aspect the well- 
known Indian Epopees may be compared with the Homeric ; 
perhaps — since it is the vastness of the imagination by which 
poetical genius proves itself — preferred to them ; as, on ac- 
count of the similarity of single strokes of imagination in the 
attributes of the divinities, it has been contended that Greek 
mythological forms may be recognized in those of India. 
Similarly the Chinese philosophy, as adopting the One [to «/] 
as its basis, has been alleged to be the same as at a later period 
appeared as Eleatic philosophy and as the Spinozistic System ; 
while in virtue of its expressing itself also in abstract numbers 
and lines, Pythagorean and Christian principles have been sup- 
posed to be detected in it. Instances of bravery and indomit- 
able courage — traits of magnanimity, of self-denial, and self- 
sacrifice, which are found among the most savage and the most 
pusillanimous nations — are regarded as sufficient to support 
the view that in these nations as much of social virtue and moral- 
ity may be found as in the most civilized Christian states, or 
even more. And on this ground a doubt has been suggested 
whether in the progress of history and of general culture man- 
kind have become better ; whether their morality has been in- 
creased — morality being regarded in a subjective aspect and 
view, as founded on what the agent holds to be right and wrong, 
good and evil ; not on a principle which is considered to be in 
and for itself right and good, or a crime and evil, or on a partic- 
ular religion believed to be the true one. 

We may fairly decline on this occasion the task of tracing the 
formalism and error of such a view, and establishing the true 
principles of morality, or rather of social virtue in opposition 
to false morality. For the History of the World occupies a 


higher ground than that on which morality has properly its 
position; which is personal character — the conscience of in- 
dividuals — their particular will and mode of action ; these have 
a value, imputation, reward or punishment proper to them- 
selves. What the absolute aim of Spirit requires and accom- 
plishes — what Providence does — transcends the obligations, 
and the liability to imputation and the ascription of good or bad 
motives, which attach to individuality in virtue of its social 
relations. They who on moral grounds, and consequently 
with noble intention, have resisted that which the advance of 
the Spiritual Idea makes necessary, stand higher in moral worth 
than those whose crimes have been turned into the means — 
under the direction of a superior principle — of realizing the 
purposes of that principle. But in such revolutions both parties 
generally stand within the limits of the same circle of transient 
and corruptible existence. Consequently it is only a formal 
rectitude — deserted by the living Spirit and by God — which 
those who stand upon ancient right and order maintain. The 
deeds of great men, who are the Individuals of the World's 
History, thus appear not only justified in view of that intrinsic 
result of which they were not conscious, but also from the point 
of view occupied by the secular moralist. But looked at from 
this point, moral claims that are irrelevant, must not be brought 
into collision with world-historical deeds and their accomplish- 
ment. The Litany of private virtues — modesty, humility, 
philanthropy and forbearance — must not be raised against 
them. The History of the World might, on principle, entirely 
ignore the circle within which morality and the so much talked 
of distinction between the moral and the politic lies — not only 
in abstaining from judgments, for the principles involved, and 
the necessary reference of the deeds in question to those prin- 
ciples, are a sufficient judgment of them — but in leaving In- 
dividuals quite out of view and unmentioned. What it has to 
record is the activity of the Spirit of Peoples, so that the indi- 
vidual forms which that spirit has assumed in the sphere of out- 
ward reality, might be left to the delineation of special histories. 
The same kind of formalism avails itself in its peculiar man- 
ner of the indefiniteness attaching to genius, poetry, and even 
philosophy ; thinks equally that it finds these everywhere. We 
have here products of reflective thought ; and it is familiarity 
with those general conceptions which single out and name real 


distinctions without fathoming the true depth of the matter- 
that we call Culture. It is something merely formal, inasmuch 
as it aims at nothing more than the analysis of the subject, what- 
ever it be, into its constituent parts, and the comprehension of 
these in their logical definitions and forms. It is not the free 
universality of conception necessary for making an abstract 
principle the object of consciousness. Such a consciousness of 
Thought itself, and of its forms isolated from a particular ob- 
ject, is Philosophy. This has, indeed, the condition of its ex- 
istence in culture ; that condition being the taking up of the ob- 
ject of thought, and at the same time clothing it with the form 
of universality, in such a way that the material content and the 
form given by the intellect are held in an inseparable state ; — 
inseparable to such a degree that the object in question — which, 
by the analysis of one conception into a multitude of concep- 
tions, is enlarged to an incalculable treasure of thought — is re- 
garded as a merely empirical datum in whose formation thought 
has had no share. 

But it is quite as much an act of Thought — of the Under- 
standing in particular — to embrace in one simple conception 
object which of itself comprehends a concrete and large sig- 
nificance (as Earth, Man — Alexander or Caesar) and to desig- 
nate it by one word — as to resolve such a conception — duly to 
isolate in idea the conceptions which it contains, and to give 
them particular names. And in reference to the view which 
gave occasion to what has just been said, thus much will be 
clear — that as reflection produces what we include under the 
general terms Genius, Talent, Art, Science — formal culture 
on every grade of intellectual development, not only can, but 
must grow, and attain a mature bloom, while the grade in 
question is developing itself to a State, and on this basis of 
civilization is advancing to intelligent reflection and to gen- 
eral forms of thought — as in laws, so in regard to all else. In 
the very association of men in a state, lies the necessity of 
formal culture — consequently of the rise of the sciences and of 
a cultivated poetry and art generally. The arts designated 
" plastic," require besides, even in their technical aspect, the 
civilized association of men. The poetic art — which has less 
need of external requirements and means, and which has the 
element of immediate existence, the voice, as its material — steps 
forth with great boldness and with matured expression, even 


under the conditions presented by a people not yet united in a 
political combination ; since, as remarked above, language at- 
tains on its own particular ground a high intellectual develop- 
ment, prior to the commencement of civilization. 

Philosophy also must make its appearance where political 
life exists ; since that in virtue of which any series of phenom- 
ena is reduced within the sphere of culture, as above stated, 
is the Form strictly proper to Thought ; and thus for philoso- 
phy, which is nothing other than the consciousness of this form 
itself — the Thinking of Thinking — the material of which its 
edifice is to be constructed, is already prepared by general cul- 
ture. If in the development of the State itself, periods are neces- 
sitated which impel the soul of nobler natures to seek refuge 
from the Present in ideal regions — in order to find in them that 
harmony with itself which it can no longer enjoy in the dis- 
cordant real world, where the reflective intelligence attacks all 
that is holy and deep, which had been spontaneously inwrought 
into the religion, laws and manners of nations, and brings them 
down and attenuates them to abstract godless generalities — 
Thought will be compelled to become Thinking Reason, with 
the view of effecting in its own element the restoration of its 
principles from the ruin to which they had been brought. 

We find then, it is true, among all world-historical peoples, 
poetry, plastic art, science, even philosophy; but not only is 
there a diversity in style and bearing generally, but still more 
remarkably in subject-matter; and this is a diversity of the 
most important kind, affecting the rationality of that subject- 
matter. It is useless for a pretentious aesthetic criticism to de- 
mand that our good pleasure should not be made the rule for 
the matter — the substantial part of their contents — and to main- 
tain that it is the beautiful form as such, the grandeur of the 
fancy, and so forth, which fine art aims at, and which must be 
considered and enjoyed by a liberal taste and cultivated mind. 
A healthy intellect does not tolerate such abstractions, and can- 
not assimilate productions of the kind above referred to. 
Granted that the Indian Epopees might be placed on a level 
with the Homeric, on account of a number of those qualities of 
form — grandeur of invention and imaginative power, liveliness 
of images and emotions, and beauty of diction ; yet the infinite 
difference of matter remains ; consequently one of substantial 
importance and involving the interest of Reason, which is im- 


mediately concerned with the consciousness of the Idea of Free- 
dom, and its expression in individuals. There is not only a 
classical form, but a classical order of subject-matter ; and in a 
work of art form and subject-matter are so closely united that 
the former can only be classical to the extent ta,which the latter 
is so. With a fantastical, indeterminate material — and Rule is 
the essence of Reason — the form becomes measureless and form- 
less, or mean and contracted. In the same way, in that com- 
parison of the various systems of philosophy of which we have 
already spoken, the only point of importance is overlooked, 
namely, the character of that Unity which is found alike in the 
Chinese, the Eleatic, and the Spinozistic philosophy — the dis- 
tinction between the recognition of that Unity as abstract and 
as concrete — concrete to the extent of being a unity in and by 
itself — a unity synonymous with Spirit. But that co-ordina- 
tion proves that it recognizes only such an abstract unity ; so 
that while it gives judgment respecting philosophy, it is ig- 
norant of that very point which constitutes the interest of 

But there are also spheres which, amid all the variety that is 
presented in the substantial content of a particular form of 
culture, remain the same. The difference above-mentioned in 
art, science, philosophy, concerns the thinking Reason and 
Freedom, which is the self-consciousness of the former, and 
which has the same one root with Thought. As it is not the 
brute, but only the man that thinks, he only — and only because 
he is a thinking being — has Freedom. His consciousness im- 
ports this, that the individual comprehends itself as a person, 
that is, recognizes itself in its single existence as possessing 
universality — as capable of abstraction from, and of surren- 
dering all speciality; and, therefore, as inherently infinite. 
Consequently those spheres of intelligence which lie beyond the 
limits of this consciousness are a common ground among those 
substantial distinctions. Even morality, which is so intimately 
connected with the consciousness of freedom, can be very pure 
while that consciousness is still wanting ; as far, that is to say, 
as it expresses duties and rights only as objective commands ; 
or even as far as it remains satisfied with the merely formal ele- 
vation of the soul — the surrender of the sensual, and of all 
sensual motives — in a purely negative, self-denying fashion. 
The Chinese morality — since Europeans have become ac- 


quainted with it and with the writings of Confucius — has ob- 
tained the greatest praise and proportionate attention from 
those who are familiar with the Christian morality. There is a 
similar acknowledgment of the sublimity with which the Indian 
religion and poetry, (a statement that must, however, be limited 
to the higher kind), but especially the Indian philosophy, ex- 
patiate upon and demand the removal and sacrifice of sensual- 
ity. Yet both these nations are, it must be confessed, entirely 
wanting in the essential consciousness of the Idea of Freedom. 
To the Chinese their moral laws are just like natural laws — 
external, positive commands — claims established by force — 
compulsory duties or rules of courtesy towards each other. 
Freedom, through which alone the essential determinations of 
Reason become moral sentiments, is wanting. Morality is a 
political affair, and its laws are administered by officers of gov- 
ernment and legal tribunals. Their treatises upon it, (which 
are not law books, but are certainly addressed to the subjective 
will and individual disposition) read — as do the moral writings 
of the Stoics — like a string of commands stated as necessary for 
realizing the goal of happiness ; so that it seems to be left free to 
men, on their part, to adopt such commands — to observe them 
or not ; while the conception of an abstract subject, " a wise 
man " [Sapiens] forms the culminating point among the Chi- 
nese, as also among the Stoic moralists. Also in the Indian doc- 
trine of the renunciation of the sensuality of desires and earthly 
interests, positive moral freedom is not the object and end, but 
the annihilation of consciousness — spiritual and even physical 
privation of life. 

It is the concrete spirit of a people which we have distinctly 
to recognize, and since it is Spirit it can only be comprehended 
spiritually, that is, by thought. It is this alone which takes the 
lead in all the deeds and tendencies of that people, and which 
is occupied in realizing itself — in satisfying its ideal and becom- 
ing self-conscious — for its great business is self-production. 
Butjor spirit, the highest attainment is self-knowledge; an ad- 
vance not only to the intuition, but to the thought— the dear 
conception of itself. This it must and is also destined to ac- 
complish ; but the accomplishment is at the same time its dis 
solution, and the rise of another spirit, another world-historical 
people, another epoch of Universal History. This transition 
and connection lead us to the connection of the whole — the 


idea of the World's History as such — which we have now to 
consider more closely, and of which we have to give a represen- 

History in general is therefore the development of Spirit in 
Time, as Nature is the development of the Idea in Space. 

If then we cast a glance over the World's-History generally, 
we see a vast picture of changes and transactions ; of infinitely 
manifold forms of peoples, states, individuals, in unresting suc- 
cession. Everything that can enter into and interest the soul 
of man — all our sensibility to goodness, beauty, and greatness 
— is called into play. On every hand aims are adopted and 
pursued, which we recognize, whose accomplishment we desire 
— we hope and fear for them. In all these occurrences and 
changes we behold human action and suffering predominant; 
everywhere something akin to ourselves, and therefore every- 
where something that excites our interest for or against. Some- 
times it attracts us by beauty, freedom, and rich variety, 
sometimes by energy such as enables even vice to make itself in- 
teresting. Sometimes we see the more comprehensive mass of 
some general interest advancing with comparative slowness, 
and subsequently sacrificed to an infinite complication of trifling 
circumstances, and so dissipated into atoms. Then, again, with 
a vast expenditure of power a trivial result is produced ; while 
from what appears unimportant a tremendous issue proceeds. 
On every hand there is the motliest throng of events drawing 
us within the circle of its interest, and when one combination 
vanishes another immediately appears in its place. 

The general thought — the category which first presents itself 
in this restless mutation of individuals and peoples, existing for 
a time and then vanishing — is that of change at large. The 
sight of the ruins of some ancient sovereignty directly leads 
us to contemplate this thought of change in its negative aspect 
What traveller among the ruins of Carthage, of Palmyra, Per- 
sepolis, or Rome, has not been stimulated to reflections on the 
transiency of kingdoms and men, and to sadness at the thought 
of a vigorous and rich life now departed — a sadness which 
does not expend itself on personal losses and the uncertainty 
of one's own undertakings, but is a disinterested sorrow at the 
decay of a splendid and highly cultured national life ! But the 
next consideration which allies itself with that of change, is, 
that change while it imports dissolution, involves at the same 


time the rise of a new life — that while death is the issue of life, 
life is also the issue of death. This is a grand conception; one 
which the Oriental thinkers attained, and which is perhaps the 
highest in their metaphysics. In the idea of Metempsychosis 
we find it evolved in its relation to individual existence; but 
a myth more generally known, is that of the Phoenix as a type 
of the Life of Nature; eternally preparing for itself its funeral 
pile, and consuming itself upon it ; but so that from its ashes 
is produced the new, renovated, fresh life. But this image is 
only Asiatic; oriental not occidental. Spirit — consuming the 
envelope of its existence — does not merely pass into another 
envelope, nor rise rejuvenescent from the ashes of its previous 
form; it comes forth exalted, glorified, a purer spirit. It cer- 
tainly makes war upon itself — consumes its own existence ; but 
in this very destruction it works up that existence into a new 
form, and each successive phase becomes in its turn a material, 
working on which it exalts itself to a new grade. 

If we consider Spirit in this aspect — regarding its changes 
not merely as rejuvenescent transitions, i.e., returns to the same 
form, but rather as manipulations of itself, by which it multi- 
plies the material for future endeavors — we see it exerting itself 
in a variety of modes and directions; developing its powers 
and gratifying its desires in a variety which is inexhaustible; 
because every one of its creations, in which it has already found 
gratification, meets it anew as material, and is a new stimulus 
to plastic activity. The abstract conception of mere change 
gives place to the thought of Spirit manifesting, developing, 
and perfecting its powers in every direction which its manifold 
nature can follow. What pbwers it inherently possesses we 
learn from the variety of products and formations which it 
originates. In this pleasurable activity, it has to do only with 
itself. As involved with the conditions of mere nature — in- 
ternal and external— it will indeed meet in these not only oppo- 
sition and hindrance, but will often see its endeavors thereby 
fail; often sink under the complications in which it is entan- 
gled either by Nature or by itself. But in such case it perishes 
in fulfilling its own destiny and proper function, and even thus 
exhibits the spectacle of self-demonstration as spiritual activity. 

The very essence of Spirit is activity; it realizes its poten- 
tiality — makes itself its own deed, its own work — and thus it 
becomes an object to itself ; contemplates itself as an objective 


existence. Thus is it with the Spirit of a people : it is a Spirit 
having strictly denned characteristics, which erects itself into 
an objective world, that exists and persists in a particular re- 
ligious form of worship, customs, constitution, and political 
laws — in the whole complex of its institutions — in the events 
and transactions that make up its history. That is its work — 
that is what this particular Nation is. Nations are what their 
deeds are. Every Englishman will say: We are the men 
who navigate the ocean, and have the commerce of the world ; 
to whom the East Indies belong and their riches; who have 
a parliament, juries, etc. — The relation of the individual to 
that Spirit is that he appropriates to himself this substantial 
existence ; that it becomes his character and capability, enabling 
him to have a definite place in the world — to be something. 
For he finds the being of the people to which he belongs an al- 
ready established, firm world — objectively present to him — with 
which he has to incorporate himself. In this its work, there- 
fore^ — its world — the Spirit of the people enjoys its existence 
and finds its satisfaction. — A Nation is moral — virtuous — vig- 
orous — while it is engaged in realizing its grand objects, and 
defends its work against external violence during the process 
of giving to its purposes an objective existence. The contra- 
diction between its potential, subjective being — its inner aim 
and life — and its actual being is removed ; it has attained full 
reality, has itself objectively present to it. But this having 
been attained, the activity displayed by the Spirit of the people 
in question is no longer needed ; it has its desire. The Nation 
can still accomplish much in war and peace at home and abroad ; 
but the living substantial soul itself may be said to have ceased 
its activity. The essential, supreme interest has consequently 
vanished from its life, for interest is present only where there 
is opposition. The nation lives the same kind of life as the 
individual when passing from maturity to old age — in the 
enjoyment of itself — in the satisfaction of being exactly what 
it desired and was able to attain. Although its imagination 
might have transcended that limit, it nevertheless abandoned 
any such aspirations as objects of actual endeavor, if the real 
world was less than favorable to their attainment — and re- 
stricted its aim by the conditions thus imposed. This mere 
customary life (the watch wound up and going on of itself) is 
that which brings on natural death. Custom is activity with- 


out opposition, for which there remains only a formal dura- 
tion ; in which the fulness and zest that originally character- 
ized the aim of life are out of the question — a merely external 
sensuous existence which has ceased to throw itself enthusi- 
astically into its object. Thus perish individuals, thus perish 
peoples by a natural death; and though the latter may con- 
tinue in being, it is an existence without intellect or vitality; 
having no need of its institutions, because the need for them 
is satisfied — a political nullity and tedium. In order that a 
truly universal interest may arise, the Spirit of a People must 
advance to the adoption of some new purpose; but whence 
can this new purpose originate? It would be a higher, more 
comprehensive conception of itself — a transcending of its prin- 
ciple — but this very act would involve a principle of a new 
order, a new National Spirit. 

Such a new principle does in fact enter into the Spirit of 
a people that has arrived at full development and self-realiza- 
tion; it dies not a simply natural death — for it is not a mere 
single individual, but a spiritual, generic life; in its case nat- 
ural death appears to imply destruction through its own agency. 
The reason of this difference from the single natural individual, 
is that the Spirit of a people exists as a genus, and consequently 
carries within it its own negation, in the very generality which 
characterizes it. A people can only die a violent death when 
it has become naturally dead in itself, as, e.g., the German Im- 
perial Cities, the German Imperial Constitution. 

It is not of the nature of the all-pervading Spirit to die this 
merely natural death; it does not simply sink into the senile 
life of mere custom, but — as being a National Spirit belonging 
to Universal History — attains to the consciousness of what 
its work is; it attains to a conception of itself. In fact it is 
world-historical only in so far as a universal principle has lain; 
in its fundamental element — in its grand aim: only so far is 
the work which such a spirit produces, a moral, political or- 
ganization. If it be mere desires that impel nations to activity, 
such deeds pass over without leaving a trace; or their traces 
are only ruin and destruction. Thus, it was first Chronos — 
Time — that ruled; the Golden Age, without moral products; 
and what was produced — the offspring of that Chronos — was 
devoured by it. It was Jupiter — from whose head Minerva 
sprang, and to whose circle of divinities belong Apollo and 


the Muses — that first put a constraint upon Time, and set a 
bound to its principle of decadence. He is the Political god, 
who produced a moral work — the State. 

In the very element of an achievement the quality of gen- 
erality, of thought, is contained; without thought it has no 
objectivity; that is its basis. The highest point in the devel- 
opment of a people is this — to have gained a conception of its 
life and condition — to have reduced its laws, its ideas of justice 
and morality to a science; for in this unity [of the objective 
and subjective] lies the most intimate unity that Spirit can 
attain to in and with itself. In its work it is employed in ren- 
dering itself an object of its own contemplation; but it cannot 
develop itself objectively in its essential nature, except in think- 
ing itself. 

At this point, then, Spirit is acquainted with its principles — 
the general character of its acts. But at the same time, in 
virtue of its very generality, this work of thought is different 
in point of form from the actual achievements of the national 
genius, and from the vital agency by which those achievements 
have been performed. We have then before us a real and an 
ideal existence of the Spirit of the Nation. If we wish to gain 
the general idea and conception of what the Greeks were, we 
find it in Sophocles and Aristophanes, in Thucydides and Plato. 
In these individuals the Greek spirit conceived and thought 
itself. This is the profounder kind of satisfaction which the 
Spirit of a people attains ; but it is " ideal," and distinct from 
its " real " activity. 

At such a time, therefore, we are sure to see a people finding 
satisfaction in the idea of virtue ; putting talk about virtue 
partly side by side with actual virtue, but partly in the place 
of it. On the other hand pure, universal thought, since its 
nature is universality, is apt to bring the Special and Spontane- 
ous — Belief, Trust, Customary Morality — to reflect upon itself, 
and its primitive simplicity ; to show up the limitation with 
which it is fettered — partly suggesting reasons for renouncing 
duties, partly itself demanding reasons, and the connection of 
such requirements with Universal Thought ; and not finding 
that connection, seeking to impeach the authority of duty gen- 
erally, as destitute of a sound foundation. 

At the same time the isolation of individuals from each other 
and from the Whole makes its appearance; their aggressive 


selfishness and vanity; their seeking personal advantage and 
consulting this at the expense of the State at large. That in- 
ward principle in transcending its outward manifestations is 
subjective also in form — viz., selfishness and corruption in the 
unbound passions and egotistic interests of men. 

Zeus, therefore, who is represented as having put a limit 
to the devouring agency of Time, and stayed this transiency by 
having established something inherently and independently 
durable — Zeus and his race are themselves swallowed up, and 
that by the very power that produced them — the principle of 
thought, perception, reasoning, insight derived from rational 
grounds, and the requirement of such grounds. 

Time is the negative element in the sensuous world. Thought 
is the same negativity, but it is the deepest, the infinite form 
of it, in which therefore all existence generally is dissolved; 
first Unite existence — determinate, limited form : but existence 
generally, in its objective character, is limited ; it appears there- 
fore as a mere datum — something immediate — authority; — 
and is either intrinsically finite and limited, or presents itself 
as a limit for the thinking subject, and its infinite reflection 
on itself [unlimited abstraction]. 

But first we must observe how the life which proceeds from 
death, is itself, on the other hand, only individual life; so 
that, regarding the species as the real and substantial in this 
vicissitude, the perishing of the individual is a regress of the 
species into individuality. The perpetuation of the race is, 
therefore, none other than the monotonous repetition of the 
same kind of existence. Further, we must remark how per- 
ception — the comprehension of being by thought — is the source 
and birthplace of a new, and in fact higher form, in a principle 
which while it preserves, dignifies its material. For Thought 
is that Universal — that Species which is immortal, which pre- 
serves identity with itself. The particular form of Spirit not 
merely passes away in the world by natural causes in Time, 
but is annulled in the automatic self-mirroring activity of con- 
sciousness. Because this annulling is an activity of Thought, 
it is at the same time conservative and elevating in its opera- 
tion. While then, on the one side, Spirit annuls the reality, the 
permanence of that which it is, it gains on the other side, the 
essence, the Thought, the Universal element of that which it 
Only was [its transient conditions]. Its principle is no longer 


that immediate import and aim which it was previously, but 
the essence of that import and aim. 

The result of this process is then that Spirit, in rendering 
itself objective and making this its being an object of thought, 
on the one hand destroys the determinate form of its being, 
on the other hand gains a comprehension of the universal ele- 
ment which it involves, and thereby gives a new form to its 
inherent principle. In virtue of this, the substantial character 
of the National Spirit has been altered — that is, its principle 
has risen into another, and in fact a higher principle. 

It is of the highest importance in apprehending and com- 
prehending History to have and to understand the thought 
involved in this transition. The individual traverses as a unity 
various grades of development, and remains the same indi- 
vidual ; in like manner also does a people, till the Spirit which 
it embodies reaches the grade of universality. In this point 
lies the fundamental, the Ideal necessity of transition. This 
is the soul — the essential consideration — of the philosophical 
comprehension of History. 

Spirit is essentially the result of its own activity : its activity 
is the transcending of immediate, simple, unreflected existence 
— the negation of that existence, and the returning into itself. 
We may compare it with the seed ; for with this the plant be- 
gins, yet it is also the result of the plant's entire life. But 
the weak side of life is exhibited in the fact that the commence- 
ment and the result are disjoined from each other. Thus also 
is it in the life of individuals and peoples. The life of a people 
ripens a certain fruit ; its activity aims at the complete mani- 
festation of the principle which it embodies. But this fruit does 
not fall back into the bosom of the people that produced and 
matured it ; on the contrary, it becomes a poison-draught to it. 
That poison-draught it cannot let alone, for it has an insatiable 
thirst for it : the taste of the draught is its annihilation, though 
at the same time the rise of a new principle. 

We have already discussed the final aim of this progression. 
The principles of the successive phases of Spirit that animate 
the Nations in a necessitated gradation, are themselves only 
steps in the development of the one universal Spirit, which 
through them elevates and completes itself to a self-compre- 
hending totality. 

While we are thus concerned exclusively with the Idea of 


Spirit, and in the History of the World regard everything 
as only its manifestation, we have, in traversing the past — 
however extensive its periods — only to do with what is present; 
for philosophy, as occupying itself with the True, has to do 
with the eternally present. Nothing in the past is lost for it, 
for the Idea is ever present ; Spirit is immortal ; with it there 
is no past, no future, but an essential now. This necessarily 
implies that the present form of Spirit comprehends within 
it all earlier steps. These have indeed unfolded themselves 
in succession independently; but what Spirit is it has always 
been essentially; distinctions are only the development of this 
essential nature. The life of the ever present Spirit is a circle 
of progressive embodiments, which looked at in one aspect 
still exist beside each other, and only as looked at from another 
point of view appear as past. The grades which Spirit seems 
to have left behind it, it still possesses in the depths of its 


Contrasted with the universality of the moral Whole and 
with the unity of that individuality which is its active prin- 
ciple, the natural connection that helps to produce the Spirit 
of a People, appears an extrinsic element; but inasmuch as 
we must regard it as the ground on which that Spirit plays 
its part, it is an essential and necessary basis. We began with 
the assertion that, in the History of the World, the Idea of 
Spirit appears in its actual embodiment as a series of external 
forms, each one of which declares itself as an actually existing 
people. This existence falls under the category of Time as 
well as Space, in the way of natural existence ; and the special 
principle, which every world-historical people embodies, has 
this principle at the same time as a natural characteristic. Spirit, 
clothing itself in this form of nature, suffers its particular 
phases to assume separate existence; for mutual exclusion 
is the mode of existence proper to mere nature. These natural 
distinctions must be first of all regarded as special possibilities, 
from which the Spirit of the people in question germinates, 
and among them is the Geographical Basis. It is not our con- 
cern to become acquainted with the land occupied by nations 
as an external locale, but with the natural type of the locality, 


as intimately connected with the type and character of the 
people which is the offspring of such a soil. This character 
is nothing more nor less than the mode and form in which 
nations make their appearance in History, and take place and 
position in it. Nature should not be rated too high nor too low : 
the mild Ionic sky certainly contributed much to the charm of 
the Homeric poems, yet this alone can produce no Homers. 
Nor in fact does it continue to produce them; under Turkish 
government no bards have arisen. We must first take notice 
of those natural conditions which have to be excluded once 
for all from the drama of the World's History. In the Frigid 
and in the Torrid zone the locality of World-historical peoples 
cannot be found. For awakening consciousness takes its rise 
surrounded by natural influences alone, and every development 
of it is the reflection of Spirit back upon itself in opposition 
to the immediate, unreflected character of mere nature. Nat- 
ure is therefore one element in this antithetic abstracting proc- 
ess; Nature is the first standpoint from which man can gain 
freedom within himself, and this liberation must not be ren- 
dered difficult by natural obstructions. Nature, as contrasted 
with Spirit, is a quantitative mass, whose power must not be 
so great as to make its single force omnipotent. In the ex- 
treme zones man cannot come to free movement; cold and 
heat are here too powerful to allow Spirit to build up a world 
for itself. Aristotle said long ago, " When pressing needs are 
satisfied, man turns to the general and more elevated." But 
in the extreme zones such pressure may be said never to cease, 
never to be warded off ; men are constantly impelled to direct 
attention to nature, to the glowing rays of the sun, and the icy 
frost. The true theatre of History is therefore the temperate 
zone ; or, rather, its northern half, because the earth there pre- 
sents itself in a continental form, and has a broad breast, as the 
Greeks say. In the south, on the contrary, it divides itself, and 
runs out into many points. The same peculiarity shows itself 
in natural products. The north has many kinds of animals 
and plants with common characteristics; in the south, where 
the land divides itself into points, natural forms also present 
individual features contrasted with each other. 

The World is divided into Old and Neiv; the name of New 
having originated in the fact that America and Australia have 
only lately become known to us. But these parts of the world 


are not only relatively new, but intrinsically so in respect of 
their entire physical and psychical constitution. Their geo- 
logical antiquity we have nothing to do with. I will not deny 
the New World the honor of having emerged from the sea 
at the world's formation contemporaneously with the old: yet 
the Archipelago between South America and Asia shows a 
physical immaturity. The greater part of the islands are so 
constituted, that they are, as it were, only a superficial deposit 
of earth over rocks, which shoot up from the fathomless deep, 
and bear the character of novel origination. New Holland 
shows a not less immature geographical character ; for in pene- 
trating from the settlements of the English farther into the 
country, we discover immense streams, which have not yet 
developed themselves to such a degree as to dig a channel for 
themselves, but lose themselves in marshes. Of America and 
its grade of civilization, especially in Mexico and Peru, we 
have information, but it imports nothing more than that this 
culture was an entirely national one, which must expire as soon 
as Spirit approached it. America has always shown itself 
physically and psychically powerless, and still shows itself so. 
For the aborigines, after the landing of the Europeans in 
America, gradually vanished at the breath of European activ- 
ity. In the United States of North America all the citizens 
are of European descent, with whom the old inhabitants could 
not amalgamate, but were driven back. The aborigines have 
certainly adopted some arts and usages from the Europeans, 
among others that of brandy-drinking, which has operated with 
deadly effect. In the South the natives were treated with much 
greater violence, and employed in hard labors to which their 
strength was by no means competent. A mild and passionless 
disposition, want of spirit, and a crouching submissiveness tow- 
ards a Creole, and still more towards a European, are the 
chief characteristics of the native Americans ; and it will be 
long before the Europeans succeed in producing any inde- 
pendence of feeling in them. The inferiority of these individ- 
uals in all respects, even in regard to size, is very manifest; 
only the quite southern races in Patagonia are more vigorous 
natures, but still abiding in their natural condition of rudeness 
and barbarism. When the Jesuits and the Catholic clergy pro- 
posed to accustom the Indians to European culture and man- 
ners (they have, as is well known, founded a state in Paraguay 


and convents in Mexico and California), they commenced a 
close intimacy with them, and prescribed for them the duties 
of the day, which, slothful though their disposition was, they 
complied with under the authority of the 1 Friars. These pre- 
scripts (at midnight a bell had to remind them even of their 
matrimonial duties), were first, and very wisely, directed to 
the creation of wants — the springs of human activity generally. 
The weakness of the American physique was a chief reason 
for bringing the negroes to America, to employ their labor in 
the work that had to be done in the New World ; for the ne- 
groes are far more susceptible of European culture than the 
Indians, and an English traveller has adduced instances of 
negroes having become competent clergymen, medical men, 
etc. (a negro first discovered the use of the Peruvian bark), 
while only a single native was known to him whose intellect 
was sufficiently developed to enable him to study, but who had 
died soon after beginning, through excessive brandy-drinking. 
The weakness of the human physique of America has been 
aggravated by a deficiency in the mere tools and appliances of 
progress — the want of horses and iron, the chief instruments 
by which they were subdued. 

The original nation having vanished or nearly so, the effec- 
tive population comes for the most part from Europe; and 
what takes place in America, is but an emanation from Europe. 
Europe has sent its surplus population to America in much 
the same way as from the old Imperial Cities, where trade- 
guilds were dominant and trade was stereotyped, many persons 
escaped to other towns which were not under such a yoke, and 
where the burden of imposts was not so heavy. Thus arose, by 
the side of Hamburg, Altona — by Frankfort, Offenbach — by 
Niirnburg, Fiirth — and Carouge by Geneva. The relation be- 
tween North America and Europe is sinilar. Many English- 
men have settled there, where burdens and imposts do not 
exist, and where the combination of European appliances and 
European ingenuity has availed to realize some produce from 
the extensive and still virgin soil. Indeed the emigration in 
question offers many advantages. The emigrants have got 
rid of much that might be obstructive to their interests at home, 
while they take with them the advantages of European inde- 
pendence of spirit, and acquired skill ; while for those who are 
willing to work vigorously, but who have not found in Europe 


opportunities for doing so, a sphere of action is certainly pre- 
sented in America, 

America, as is well known, is divided into two parts, con- 
nected indeed by an isthmus, but which has not been the means 
of establishing intercourse between them. Rather, these two 
divisions are most decidedly distinct from each other. North 
America shows us on approaching it, along its eastern shore 
a wide border of level coast, behind which is stretched a chain 
of mountains — the blue mountains or Appalachians; further 
north the Alleghanies. Streams issuing from them water the 
country towards the coast, which affords advantages of the 
most desirable kind to the United States, whose origin belongs 
to this region. Behind that mountain-chain the St. Lawrence 
river flows (in connection with huge lakes), from south to 
north, and on this river lie the northern colonies of Canada. 
Farther west we meet the basin of the vast Mississippi, and 
the basins of the Missouri and Ohio, which it receives, and 
then debouches into the Gulf of Mexico. On the western side 
of this region we have in like manner a long mountain chain, 
running through Mexico and the Isthmus of Panama, and 
under the names of the Andes or Cordillera, cutting off an edge 
of coast along the whole west side of South America. The 
border formed by this is narrower and offers fewer advantages 
than that of North America. There lie Peru and Chili. On 
the east side flow eastward the monstrous streams of the Ori- 
noco and Amazons ; they form great valleys, not adapted how- 
ever for cultivation, since they are only wide desert steppes. 
Towards the south flows the Rio de la Plata, whose tributaries 
have their origin partly in the Cordilleras, partly in the northern 
chain of mountains which separates the basin of the Amazon 
from its own. To the district of the Rio de la Plata belong 
Brazil, and the Spanish Republics. Colombia is the northern 
coast-land of South America, at the west of which, flowing 
along the Andes, the Magdalena debouches into the Caribbean 

With the exception of Brazil, republics have come to occupy 
South as well as North America. In comparing South Amer- 
ica (reckoning Mexico as part of it) with North America, we 
observe an astonishing contrast. 

In North America we witness a prosperous state of things ; 
an increase of industry and population civil order and firm 
Vol. 23 E— Classics 


freedom; the whole federation constitutes but a single state, 
and has its political centres. In South America, on the con- 
trary, the republics depend only on military force ; their whole 
history is a continued revolution; federated states become 
disunited ; others previously separated become united ; and 
all these changes originate in military revolutions. The more 
special differences between the two parts of America show 
us two opposite directions, the one in political respects, the other 
in regard to religion. South America, where the Spaniards 
settled and asserted supremacy, is Catholic; North America, 
although a land of sects of every name, is yet fundamentally, 
Protestant. A wider distinction is presented in the fact, that 
South America was conquered, but North America colonized. 
The Spaniards took possession of South America to govern it, 
and to become rich through occupying political offices, and by 
exactions. Depending on a very distant mother country, their 
desires found a larger scope, and by force, address and confi- 
dence they gained a great predominance over the Indians. The 
North American States were, on the other hand, entirely colo- 
nized, by Europeans. Since in England Puritans, Episcopal- 
ians, and Catholics were engaged in perpetual conflict, and now 
one party, now the other, had the upper hand, many emigrated 
to seek religious freedom on a foreign shore. These were in- 
dustrious Europeans, who betook themselves to agriculture, 
tobacco and cotton planting, etc. Soon the whole attention 
of the inhabitants was given to labor, and the basis of their 
existence as a united body lay in the necessities that bind man 
to man, the desire of repose, the establishment of civil rights, 
security and freedom, and a community arising from the aggre- 
gation of individuals as atomic constituents ; so that the state 
was merely something external for the protection of property. 
From the Protestant religion sprang the principle of the mutual 
confidence of individuals — trust in the honorable dispositions 
of other men ; for in the Protestant Church the entire life — its 
activity generally — is the field for what it deems religious 
works. Among Catholics, on the contrary, the basis of such 
a confidence cannot exist; for in secular matters only force 
and voluntary subservience are the principles of action; and 
the forms which are called Constitutions are in this case only 
a resort of necessity, and are no protection against mistrust. 
If we compare North America further with Europe, we shall 


find in the former the permanent example of a republican con- 
stitution. A subjective unity presents itself; for there is a 
President at the head of the State, who, for the sake of security 
against any monarchical ambition, is chosen only for four years. 
Universal protection for property, and a something approach- 
ing entire immunity from public burdens, are facts which are 
constantly held up to commendation. We have in these facts 
the fundamental character of the community — the endeavor of 
the individual after acquisition, commercial profit, and gain; 
the preponderance of private interest, devoting itself to that of 
the community only for its own advantage. We find, certainly, 
legal relations — a formal code of laws; but respect for law 
exists apart from genuine probity, and the American merchants 
commonly lie under the imputation of dishonest dealings under 
legal protection. If, on the one side, the Protestant Church 
develops the essential principle of confidence, as already stated, 
it thereby involves on the other hand the recognition of the 
validity of the element of feeling to such a degree as gives 
encouragement to unseemly varieties of caprice. Those who 
adopt this standpoint maintain, that, as everyone may have his 
peculiar way of viewing things generally, so he may have also 
a religion peculiar to himself. Thence the splitting up into so 
many sects, which reach the very acme of absurdity; many of 
which have a form of worship consisting in convulsive move- 
ments, and sometimes in the most sensuous extravagances. 
This complete freedom of worship is developed to such a de- 
gree, that the various congregations choose ministers and dis- 
miss them according to their absolute pleasure ; for the Church 
is no independent existence — having a substantial spiritual be- 
ing, and correspondingly permanent external arrangement — 
but the affairs of religion are regulated by the good pleasure 
for the time being of the members of the community. In North 
America the most unbounded license of imagination in religious 
matters prevails, and that religious unity is wanting which has 
been maintained in European States, where deviations are lim- 
ited to a few confessions. As to the political condition of North 
America, the general object of the existence of this State is 
not yet fixed and determined, and the necessity for a firm 
combination does not yet exist; for a real State and a real 
Government arise only after a distinction of classes has arisen, 
when wealth and poverty become extreme, and when such a 


condition of things presents itself that a large portion of the 
people can no longer satisfy its necessities in the way in which 
it has been accustomed so to do. But America is hitherto 
exempt from this pressure, for it has the outlet of colonization 
constantly and widely open, and multitudes are continually 
streaming into the plains of the Mississippi. By this means 
the chief source of discontent is removed, and the continuation 
of the existing civil condition is guaranteed. A comparison 
of the United States of North America with European lands 
is therefore impossible; for in Europe, such a natural outlet 
for population, notwithstanding all the emigrations that take 
place, does not exist. Had the woods of Germany been in 
existence, the French Revolution would not have occurred. 
North America will be comparable with Europe only after the 
immeasurable space which that country presents to its inhabi- 
tants shall have been occupied, and the members of the political 
body shall have begun to be pressed back on each other. North 
America is still in the condition of having land to begin to culti- 
vate. Only when, as in Europe, the direct increase of agricult- 
urists is checked, will the inhabitants, instead of pressing out- 
wards to occupy the fields, press inwards upon each other — 
pursuing town occupations, and trading with their fellow- 
citizens; and so form a compact system of civil society, and 
require an organized state. The North American Federation 
have no neighboring State (towards which they occupy a rela- 
tion similar to that of European States to each other), one 
which they regard with mistrust, and against which they must 
keep up a standing army. Canada and Mexico are not objects 
of fear, and England has had fifty years' experience, that free 
America is more profitable to her than it was in a state of 
dependence. The militia of the North American Republic 
proved themselves quite as brave in the War of Independence 
as the Dutch under Philip II ; but generally, where Inde- 
pendence is not at stake, less power is displayed, and in the 
year 1814 the militia held out but indifferently against the 

America is therefore the land of the future, where, in the 
ages that lie before us, the burden of the World's History shall 
reveal itself — perhaps in a contest between North and South 
America. It is a land of desire for all those who are weary of 
the historical lumber-room of old Europe. Napoleon is re- 


ported to have said : " Cette vieille Europe m'ennuie." It is 
for America to abandon the ground on which hitherto the His- 
tory of the World has developed itself. What has taken place 
in the New World up to the present time is only an echo of 
the Old World — the expression of a foreign Life; and as a 
Land of the Future, it has no interest for us here, for, as re- 
gards History, our concern must be with that which has been 
and that which is. In regard to Philosophy, on the other hand, 
we have to do with that which (strictly speaking) is neither 
past nor future, but with that which is, which has an eternal 
existence — with Reason; and this is quite sufficient to oc- 
cupy us. 

Dismissing, then, the New World, and the dreams to which 
it may give rise, we pass over to the Old World — the scene of 
the World's History; and must first direct attention to the 
natural elements and conditions of existence which it presents. 
America is divided into two parts, which are indeed connected 
by an Isthmus, but which forms only an external, material 
bond of union. The Old World, on the contrary, which lies 
opposite to America, and is separated from it by the Atlantic 
Ocean, has its continuity interrupted by a deep inlet — the 
Mediterranean Sea. The three Continents that compose it 
have an essential relation to each other, and constitute a totality. 
Their peculiar feature is that they lie round this Sea, and there- 
fore have an easy means of communication; for rivers and 
seas are not to be regarded as disjoining, but as uniting. Eng- 
land and Brittany, Norway and Denmark, Sweden and Livonia, 
have been united. For the three quarters of the globe the Medi- 
terranean Sea is similarly the uniting element, and the centre 
of World-History. Greece lies here, the focus of light in His- 
tory. Then in Syria we have Jerusalem, the centre of Judaism 
and of Christianity ; southeast of it lie Mecca and Medina, the 
cradle of the Mussulman faith ; towards the west Delphi and 
Athens; farther west still, Rome: on the Mediterranean Sea 
we have also Alexandria and Carthage. The Mediterranean 
is thus the heart of the Old World, for it is that which condi- 
tioned and vitalized it. Without it the History of the World 
could not be conceived: it would be like ancient Rome or 
Athens without the forum, where all the life of the city came 
together. The extensive tract of eastern Asia is severed from 
the process of general historical development, and has no share 


in it ; so also Northern Europe, which took part in the World's 
History only at a later date, and had no part in it while the Old 
World lasted ; for this was exclusively4imited to the countries 
lying round the Mediterranean Sea. Julius Caesar's crossing 
the Alps — the conquest of Gaul and the relation into which the 
Germans thereby entered with the Roman Empire — makes 
consequently an epoch in History; for in virtue of this it 
begins to extend its boundaries beyond the Alps. Eastern Asia 
and that trans- Alpine country are the extremes of this agitated 
focus of human life around the Mediterranean — the beginning 
and end of History — its rise and decline. 

The more special geographical distinctions must now be es- 
tablished, and they are to be regarded as essential, rational 
distinctions, in contrast with the variety of merely accidental 
circumstances. Of these characteristic differences there are 
three : — 

(i) The arid elevated land with its extensive steppes and 

(2) The valley plains — the Land of Transition permeated 
and watered by great Streams. 

(3) The coast region in immediate connection with the sea. 
These three geographical elements are the essential ones, 

and we shall see each quarter of the globe triply divided ac- 
cordingly. The first is the substantial, unvarying, metallic, 
elevated region, intractably shut up within itself, but perhaps 
adapted to send forth impulses over the rest of the world ; the 
second forms centres of civilization, and is the yet undeveloped 
independence [of humanity] ; the third offers the means of 
connecting the world together, and of maintaining the con- 

( 1 ) The elevated land. — We see such a description of coun- 
try in middle Asia inhabited by Mongolians (using the word 
in a general sense) : from the Caspian Sea these Steppes 
stretch in a northerly direction towards the Black Sea. As 
similar tracts may be cited the deserts of Arabia and of Barbary 
in Africa; in South America the country round the Orinoco, 
and in Paraguay. The peculiarity of the inhabitants of this 
elevated region, which is watered sometimes only by rain, or 
by the overflowing of a river (as are the plains of the Orinoco) 
— is the patriarchal life, the division into single families. The 
region which these families occupy is unfruitful or productive 


only temporarily: the inhabitants have their property not in 
the land — from which they derive only a trifling profit — but in 
the animals that wander with them. For a long time these find 
pasture in the plains, and when they are depastured, the tribe 
moves to other parts of the country. They are careless and 
provide nothing for the winter, on which account therefore, 
half of the herd is frequently cut off. Among these inhabitants 
of the upland there exist no legal relations, and consequently 
there are exhibited among them the extremes of hospitality 
and rapine ; the last more especially when they are surrounded 
by civilized nations, as the Arabians, who are assisted in their 
depredations by their horses and camels. The Mongolians feed 
on mares' milk, and thus the horse supplies them at the same 
time with appliances for nourishment and for war. Although 
this is the form of their patriarchal life, it often happens that 
they cohere together in great masses, and by an impulse of one 
kind or another, are excited to external movement. Though 
previously of peaceful disposition, they then rush as a devas- 
tating inundation over civilized lands, and the revolution which 
ensues has no other result than destruction and desolation. 
Such an agitation was excited among those tribes under Gen- 
ghis Khan and Tamerlane : they destroyed all before them ; then 
vanished again, as does an overwhelming Forest-torrent — pos- 
sessing no inherent principle of vitality. From the uplands 
they rush down into the dells : there dwell peaceful mountain- 
eers — herdsmen who also occupy themselves with agriculture, 
as do the Swiss. Asia has also such a people : they are however 
on the whole a less important element. 

(2) The valley plains. — These are plains, permeated by riv- 
ers, and which owe the whole of their fertility to the streams 
by which they are formed. Such a Valley-Plain is China- 
India, traversed by the Indus and the Ganges — Babylonia, 
where the Euphrates and the Tigris flow — Egypt, watered by 
the Nile. In these regions extensive Kingdoms arise, and the 
foundation of great States begins. For agriculture, which 
prevails here as the primary principle of subsistence for indi- 
viduals, is assisted by the regularity of seasons, which require 
corresponding agricultural operations; property in land com- 
mences, and the consequent legal relations ; — that is to say, the 
basis and foundation of the State, which becomes possible only 
in connection with such relations. 



(3) The coast land. — A River divides districts of country 
from each other, but still more does the sea; and we are accus- 
tomed to regard water as the separating element. Especially 
in recent times has it been insisted upon that States must neces- 
sarily have been separated by natural features. Yet on the 
contrary, it may be asserted as a fundamental principle that 
nothing unites so much as water, for countries are nothing else 
than districts occupied by streams. Silesia, for instance, is the 
valley of the Oder ; Bohemia and Saxony are the valley of the 
Elbe ; Egypt is the valley of the Nile. With the sea this is not 
less the case, as has been already pointed out. Only Mountains 
separate. Thus the Pyrenees decidedly separate Spain from 
France. The Europeans have been in constant connection with 
America and the East Indies ever since they were discovered ; 
but they have scarcely penetrated into the interior of Africa and 
Asia, because intercourse by land is much more difficult than 
by water. Only through the fact of being a sea, has the Medi- 
terranean become a focus of national life. Let us now look 
at the character of the nations that are conditioned by this 
third element. 

The sea gives us the idea of the indefinite, the unlimited, and 
infinite; and in feeling his own infinite in that Infinite, man 
is stimulated and emboldened to stretch beyond the limited : 
the sea invites man to conquest, and to piratical plunder, but 
also to honest gain and to commerce. The land, the mere 
Valley-plain attaches him to the soil ; it involves him in an 
infinite multitude of dependencies, but the sea carries him out 
beyond these limited circles of thought and action. Those who 
navigate the sea, have indeed gain for their object, but the 
means are in this respect paradoxical, inasmuch as they hazard 
both property and life to attain it. The means therefore are 
the very opposite to that which they aim at. This is what exalts 
their gain and occupation above itself, and makes it something 
brave and noble. Courage is necessarily introduced into trade, 
daring is joined with wisdom. For the daring which encoun- 
ters the sea must at the same time embrace wariness — cunning 
— since it has to do with the treacherous, the most unreliable 
and deceitful element. This boundless plain is absolutely yield- 
ing — withstanding no pressure, not even a breath of wind. It 
looks boundlessly innocent, submissive, friendly, and insinuat- 
ing; and it is exactly this submissiveness which changes the 



sea into the most dangerous and violent element. To this de- 
ceitfulness and violence man opposes merely a simple piece of 
wood ; confides entirely in his courage and presence of mind ; 
and thus passes from a firm ground to an unstable support, 
taking his artificial ground with him. The Ship — that swan 
of the sea, which cuts the watery plain in agile and arching 
movements or describes circles upon it — is a machine whose 
invention does the greatest honor to the boldness of man as 
well as to his understanding. This stretching out of the sea 
beyond the limitations of the land, is wanting to the splendid 
political edifices of Asiatic States, although they themselves 
border on the sea — as for example, China. For them the sea 
is only the limit, the ceasing of the land ; they have no positive 
relation to it. The activity to which the sea invites, is a quite 
peculiar one : thence arises the fact that the coast-lands almost 
always separate themselves from the states of the interior al- 
though they are connected with these by a river. Thus Holland 
has severed itself from Germany, Portugal from Spain. 

In accordance with these data we may now consider the 
three portions of the globe with which History is concerned, 
and here the three characteristic principles manifest themselves 
in a more or less striking manner: Africa has for its leading 
classical feature the Upland, Asia the contrast of river regions 
with the Upland, Europe the mingling of these several ele- 

Africa must be divided into three parts: one is that which 
lies south of the desert of Sahara — Africa proper — the Upland 
almost entirely unknown to us, with narrow coast-tracts along 
the sea ; the second is that to the north of the desert — European 
Africa (if we may so call it) — a coastland; the third is the 
river region of the Nile, the only valley-land of Africa, and 
which is in connection with Asia. 

Africa proper, as far as History goes back, has remained— 
for all purposes of connection with the rest of the World — 
shut up ; it is the Gold-land compressed within itself — the land 
of childhood, which lying beyond the day of self-conscious his- 
tory, is enveloped in the dark mantle of Night. Its isolated 
character originates, not merely in its tropical nature, but 
essentially m its geographical condition. The triangle 
which it forms (if we take the West Coast — which in the Gulf 
of Guinea makes a strongly indented angle — for one side, and 


in the same way the East Coast to Cape Gardafu for another) 
is on two sides so constituted for the most part, as to have 
a very narrow Coast Tract, habitable only in a few isolated 
spots. Next to this towards the interior, follows to almost the 
same extent, a girdle of marsh land with the most luxuriant 
vegetation, the especial home of ravenous beasts, snakes of all 
kinds — a border tract whose atmosphere is poisonous to Euro- 
peans. This border constitutes the base of a cincture of high 
mountains, which are only at distant intervals traversed by 
streams, and where they are so, in such a way as to form no 
means of union with the interior; for the interruption occurs 
but seldom below the upper part of the mountain ranges, and 
only in individual narrow channels, where are frequently found 
innavigable waterfalls and torrents crossing each other in wild 
confusion. During the three or three and a half centuries that 
the Europeans have known this border-land and have taken 
places in it into their possession, they have only here and there 
(and that but for a short time) passed these mountains, and 
have nowhere settled down beyond them. The land surrounded 
by these mountains is an unknown Upland, from which on the 
other hand the Negroes have seldom made their way through. 
In the sixteenth century occurred at many very distant points, 
outbreaks of terrible hordes which rushed down upon the more 
peaceful inhabitants of the declivities. Whether any internal 
movement had taken place, or if so, of what character, we do 
not know. What we do know of these hordes, is the contrast 
between their conduct in their wars and forays themselves — 
which exhibited the most reckless inhumanity and disgusting 
barbarism — and the fact that afterwards, when their rage was 
spent, in the calm time of peace, they showed themselves mild 
and well disposed towards the Europeans, when they became 
acquainted with them. This holds good of the Fullahs and of 
the Mandingo tribes, who inhabit the mountain terraces of 
the Senegal and Gambia. The second portion of Africa is 
the river district of the Nile — Egypt; which was adapted to 
become a mighty centre of independent civilization, and there- 
fore is as isolated and singular in Africa as Africa itself appears 
in relation to the other parts of the world. The northern part 
of Africa, which may be specially called that of the coast-terri- 
tory (for Egypt has been frequently driven back on itself, by 
the Mediterranean) lies on the Mediterranean and the Atlantic; 



a magnificent territory, on which Carthage once lay — the site 
of the modern Morocco, Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli. This 
part was to be — must be attached to Europe : the French have 
lately made a successful effort in this direction: like Hither- 
Asia, it looks Europe-wards. Here in their turn have Cartha- 
ginians, Romans, and Byzantines, Mussulmans, Arabians, had 
their abode, and the interests of Europe have always striven 
to get a footing in it. 

The peculiarly African character is difficult to comprehend, 
for the very reason that in reference to it, we must quite give 
up the principle which naturally accompanies all our ideas — 
the category of Universality. In Negro life the characteristic 
point is the fact that consciousness has not yet attained to 
the realization of any substantial objective existence — as for 
example, God, or Law — in which the interest of man's volition 
is involved and in which he realizes his own being. This dis- 
tinction between himself as an individual and the universality 
of his essential being, the African in the uniform, undeveloped 
oneness of his existence has not yet attained; so that the 
Knowledge of an absolute Being, an Other and a Higher than 
his individual self, is entirely wanting. The Negro, as already 
observed, exhibits the natural man in his completely wild and 
untamed state. We must lay aside all thought of reverence 
and morality — all that we call feeling — if we would rightly 
comprehend him; there is nothing harmonious with humanity 
to be found in this type of character. The copious and circum- 
stantial accounts of Missionaries completely confirm this, and 
Mahommedanism appears to be the only thing which in any 
way brings the Negroes within the range of culture. The Ma- 
hommedans too understand better than the Europeans, how to 
penetrate into the interior of the country. The grade of culture 
which the Negroes occupy may be more nearly appreciated by 
considering the aspect which Religion presents among them. 
That which forms the basis of religious conceptions is the con- 
sciousness on the part of man of a Higher Power — even though 
this is conceived only as a vis natures — in relation to which he 
feels himself a weaker, humbler being. Religion begins with 
the consciousness that there is something higher than man. 
But even Herodotus called the Negroes sorcerers: — now in 
Sorcery we have not the idea of a God, of a moral faith; it 
exhibits man as the highest power, regarding him as alone 


occupying a position of command over the power of Nature. 
We have here therefore nothing to do with a spiritual adora- 
tion of God, nor with an empire of >Right. God thunders, but 
is not on that account recognized as God. For the soul of man, 
God must be more than a thunderer, whereas among the Ne- 
groes this is not the case. Although they are necessarily con- 
scious of dependence upon nature — for they need the bene- 
ficial influence of storm, rain, cessation of the rainy period, and 
so on — yet this does not conduct them to the consciousness of 
a Higher Power: it is they who command the elements, and 
this they call " magic." The Kings have a class of ministers 
through whom they command elemental changes, and every 
place possesses such magicians, who perform special ceremo- 
nies, with all sorts of gesticulations, dances, uproar, and shout- 
ing, and in the midst of this confusion commence their incanta- 
tions. The second element in their religion, consists in their 
giving an outward form to this supernatural power — projecting 
their hidden might into the world of phenomena by means of 
images. What they conceive of as the power in question, is 
therefore nothing really objective, having a substantial being 
and different from themselves, but the first thing that comes 
in their way. This, taken quite indiscriminately, they exalt to 
the dignity of a " Genius " ; it may be an animal, a tree, a 
stone, or a wooden figure. This is their Fetich — a word to 
which the Portuguese first gave currency, and which is derived 
from feitizo, magic. Here, in the Fetich, a kind of objective 
independence as contrasted with the arbitrary fancy of the 
individual seems to manifest itself; but as the objectivity is 
nothing other than the fancy of the individual projecting itself 
into space, the human individuality remains master of the im- 
age it has adopted. If any mischance occurs which the Fetich 
has not averted, if rain is suspended, if there is a failure in the 
crops, they bind and beat or destroy the Fetich and so get rid 
of it, making another immediately, and thus holding it in their 
own power. Such a Fetich has no independence as an object 
of religious worship; still less has it aesthetic independence 
as a work of art ; it is merely a creation that expresses the 
arbitrary choice of its maker, and which always remains in his 
hands. In short there is no relation of dependence in this re- 
ligion. There is however one feature that points to something 
beyond; — the Worship of the Dead — in which their deceased 



forefathers and ancestors are regarded by them as a power 
influencing the living. Their idea in the matter is that these 
ancestors exercise vengeance and inflict upon man various 
injuries — exactly in the sense in which this was supposed of 
witches in the Middle Ages. Yet the power of the dead is not 
held superior to that of the living, for the Negroes command 
the dead and lay spells upon them. Thus the power in question 
remains substantially always in bondage to the living subject. 
Death itself is looked upon by the Negroes as no universal 
natural law ; even this, they think, proceeds from evil-disposed 
magicians. In this doctrine is certainly involved the elevation 
of man over Nature ; to such a degree that the chance volition 
of man is superior to the merely natural — that he looks upon 
this as an instrument to which he does not pay the compliment 
of treating it in a way conditioned by itself, but which he com- 

But from the fact that man is regarded as the Highest, it 
follows that he has no respect for himself; for only with the 
consciousness of a Higher Being does he reach a point of view 
which inspires him with real reverence. For if arbitrary choice 
is the absolute, the only substantial objectivity that is realized, 
the mind cannot in such be conscious of any Universality. The 
Negroes indulge, therefore, that perfect contempt for humanity, 
which in its bearing on Justice and Morality is the fundamental 
characteristic of the race. They have moreover no knowledge 
of the immortality of the soul, although spectres are supposed 
to appear. The undervaluing of humanity among them reaches 
an incredible degree of intensity. Tyranny is regarded as no 
wrong, and cannibalism is looked upon as quite customary and 
proper. Among us instinct deters from it, if we can speak of 
instinct at all as appertaining to man. But with the Negro this 
is not the case, and the devouring of human flesh is altogether 
consonant with the general principles of the African race ; to 
the sensual Negro, human flesh is but an object of sense — mere 
flesh. At the death of a King hundreds are killed and eaten ; 
prisoners are butchered and their flesh sold in the markets; 
the victor is accustomed to eat the heart of his slain foe. When 
magical rites are performed, it frequently happens that the sor- 
cerer kills the first that comes in his way and divides his body 

* Vide Hegel's " Vorlesungen uber die Philosophic der Religion," I. 284 and 
289. 2d Ed. 


among the bystanders. Another characteristic fact in refer- 
ence to the Negroes is Slavery. Negroes are enslaved by Eu- 
ropeans and sold to America. Bad as this may be, their lot in 
their own land is even worse, since there a slavery quite as ab- 
solute exists; for it is the essential principle of slavery, that 
man has not yet attained a consciousness of his freedom, and 
consequently sinks down to a mere Thing — an object of no 
value. Among the Negroes moral sentiments are quite weak, 
or more strictly speaking, non-existent. Parents sell their 
children, and conversely children their parents, as either has the 
opportunity. Through the pervading influence of slavery all 
those bonds of moral regard which we cherish towards each 
other disappear, and it does not occur to the Negro mind to ex- 
pect from others what we are enabled to claim. The polygamy 
of the Negroes has frequently for its object the having many 
children, to be sold, every one of them, into slavery ; and very 
often naive complaints on this score are heard, as for instance 
in the case of a Negro in London, who lamented that he was 
now quite a poor man because he had already sold all his rela- 
tions. In the contempt of humanity displayed by the Negroes, 
it is not so much a despising of death as a want of regard for 
life that forms the characteristic feature. To this want of re- 
gard for life must be ascribed the great courage, supported by 
enormous bodily strength, exhibited by the Negroes, who allow 
themselves to be shot down by thousands in war with Euro- 
peans. Life has a value only when it has something valuable as 
its object. 

Turning our attention in the next place to the category of 
political constitution, we shall see that the entire nature of this 
race is such as to preclude the existence of any such arrange- 
ment. The standpoint of humanity at this grade is mere sen- 
suous volition with energy of will ; since universal spiritual 
laws (for example, that of the morality of the Family) cannot 
be recognized here. Universality exists only as arbitrary sub- 
jective choice. The political bond can therefore not possess 
such a character as that free laws should unite the community. 
There is absolutely no bond, no restraint upon that arbitrary 
volition. Nothing but external force can hold the State to- 
gether for a moment. A ruler stands at the head, for sensuous 
barbarism can only be restrained by despotic power. But since 
the subjects are of equally violent temper with their master, 



they keep him on the other hand within limits. Under the chief 
there are many other chiefs with whom the former, whom we 
will call the King, takes counsel, and whose consent he must 
seek to gain, if he wishes to undertake a war or impose a tax. 
In this relation he can exercise more or less authority, and by 
fraud or force can on occasion put this or that chieftain out of 
the way. Besides this the Kings have other specified preroga- 
tives-. Among the Ashantees the King inherits all the property 
left by his subjects at their death. In other places all unmar- 
ried women belong to the King, and whoever wishes a wife, 
must buy her from him. If the Negroes are discontented with 
their King they depose and kill him. In Dahomey, when they 
are thus displeased, the custom is to send parrots' eggs to the 
King, as a sign of dissatisfaction with his government. Some- 
times also a deputation is sent, which intimates to him, that the 
burden of government must have been very troublesome to him, 
and that he had better rest a little. The King then thanks his 
subjects, goes into his apartments, and has himself strangled 
by the women. Tradition alleges that in former times a state 
composed of women made itself famous by its conquests : it was 
a state at whose head was a woman. She is said to have 
pounded her own son in a mortar, to have besmeared herself with 
the blood, and to have had the blood of pounded children con- 
stantly at hand. She is said to haVe driven away or put to'death 
all the males, and commanded the death of all male children. 
These furies destroyed everything in the neighborhood, and 
were driven to constant plunderings, because they did not cul- 
tivate the land. Captives in war were taken as husbands : preg- 
nant women had to betake themselves outside the encampment ; 
and if they had born a son, put him out of the way. This in- 
famous state, the report goes on to say, subsequently disap- 
peared. Accompanying the King we constantly find in Negro 
States, the executioner, whose office is regarded as of the high- 
est consideration, and by whose hands, the King, though he 
makes use of him for putting suspected persons to death, may 
himself suffer death, if the grandees desire it. Fanaticism, 
which, notwithstanding the yielding disposition of the Negro 
in other respects, can be excited, surpasses, when roused, all 
belief. An English traveller states that when a war is deter- 
mined on in Ashantee, solemn ceremonies precede it : among 
other things the bones of the King's mother are laved with 


human blood. As a prelude to the war, the King ordains an 
onslaught upon his own metropolis, as if to excite the due de- 
gree of frenzy. The King sent word'to the English Hutchin- 
son : ' Christian, take care, and watch well over your family. 
The messenger of death has drawn his sword and will strike the 
neck of many Ashantees ; when the drum sounds it is the death 
signal for multitudes. Come to the King, if you can, and fear 
nothing for yourself." The drum beat, and a terrible carnage 
was begun ; all who came in the way of the frenzied Negroes 
in the streets were stabbed. On such occasions the King has all 
whom he suspects killed, and the deed then assumes the charac- 
ter of a sacred act. Every idea thrown into the mind of the 
Negro is caught up and realized with the whole energy of his 
will; but this realization involves a wholesale destruction. 
These people continue long at rest, but suddenly their passions 
ferment, and then they are quite beside themselves. The de- 
struction which is the consequence of their excitement, is caused 
by the fact that it is no positive idea, no thought which produces 
these commotions ; — a physical rather than a spiritual enthusi- 
asm. In Dahomey, when the King dies, the bonds of society 
are loosed ; in his palace begins indiscriminate havoc and dis- 
organization. All the wives of the King (in Dahomey their 
number is exactly 3,333) are massacred, and through the whole 
town plunder and carnage run riot. The wives of the King 
regard this their death as a necessity ; they go richly attired to 
meet it. The authorities have to hasten to proclaim the new 
governor, simply to put a stop to massacre. 

From these various traits it is manifest that want of self- 
control distinguishes the character of the Negroes. This con- 
dition is capable of no development or culture, and as we see 
them at this day, such have they always been. The only essen- 
tial connection that has existed and continued between the 
Negroes and the Europeans is that of slavery. In this the 
Negroes see nothing unbecoming them, and the English who 
have done most for abolishing the slave-trade and slavery, are 
treated by the Negroes themselves as enemies. For it is a 
point of first importance with the Kings to sell their captured 
enemies, or even their own subjects ; and viewed in the light 
of such facts, we may conclude slavery to have been the occasion 
of the increase of human feeling among the Negroes. The doc- 
trine which we deduce from this condition of slavery among the 



Negroes, and which constitutes the only side of the question 
that has an interest for our inquiry, is that which we deduce 
from the Idea : viz. that the " Natural condition " itself is one 
of absolute and thorough injustice — contravention of the Right 
and Just. Every intermediate grade between this and the 
realization of a rational State retains — as might be expected— 
elements and aspects of injustice ; therefore we find slavery 
even in the Greek and Roman States, as we do serfdom down 
to the latest times. But thus existing in a State, slavery is itself 
a phase of advance from the merely isolated sensual existence — 
a phase of education — a mode of becoming participant in a 
higher morality and the culture connected with it. Slavery is 
in and for itself injustice, for the essence of humanity is Freedom; 
but for this man must be matured. The gradual abolition of 
slavery is therefore wiser and more equitable than its sudden re- 

At this point we leave Africa, not to mention it again. For 
it is no historical part of the World ; it has no movement or 
development to exhibit. Historical movements in it — that is in 
its northern part — belong to the Asiatic or European World. 
Carthage displayed there an important transitionary phase of 
civilization ; but, as a Phoenician colony, it belongs to Asia. 
Egypt will be considered in reference to the passage of the 
human mind from its Eastern to its Western phase, but it does 
not belong to the African Spirit. What we properly under- 
stand by Africa, is the Unhistorical, Undeveloped Spirit, still 
involved in the conditions of mere nature, and which had to be 
presented here only as on the threshold of the World's History. 

Having eliminated this introductory element, we find our- 
selves for the first time on the real theatre of History. It now 
only remains for us to give a prefatory sketch of the Geograph- 
ical basis of the Asiatic and European world. Asia is, character- 
istically, the Orient quarter of the globe — the region of origina- 
tion. It is indeed a Western world for America ; but as Europe 
presents on the whole, the centre and end of the old world, and 
is absolutely the West — so Asia is absolutely the East. 

In Asia arose the Light of Spirit, and therefore the history of 
the World. 

We must now consider the various localities of Asia. Its 
physical constitution presents direct antitheses, and the essen- 
tial relation of these antitheses. Its various geographical prin- 
ciples are formations in themselves developed and perfected. 


First, the northern slope, Siberia, must be eliminated. This 
slope, from the Altai chain, with its fine streams, that pour their 
waters into the northern Ocean, does not at all concern us here ; 
because the Northern Zone, as already stated, lies Out of the 
pale of History. But the remainder includes three very inter- 
esting localities. The first is, as in Africa, a massive Upland, 
with a mountain girdle which contains the highest summits in 
the World. This Upland is bounded on the South and South- 
east, by the Mus-Tag or Imaus, parallel to which, farther south, 
runs the Himalaya chain. Towards the East, a mountain 
chain running from South to North, parts off the basin of the 
Amur. On the North lie the Altai and Songarian mountains ; 
in connection with the latter, in the Northwest the Musart and 
in the West the Belur Tag, which by the Hindoo Coosh chain 
are again united with the Mus-Tag. 

This high mountain-girdle is broken through by streams, 
which are dammed up and form great valley plains. These, 
more or less inundated, present centres of excessive luxuriance 
and fertility, and are distinguished from the European river dis- 
tricts in their not forming, as those do, proper valleys with val- 
leys branching out from them, but river-plains. Of this kind 
are — the Chinese Valley Plain, formed by the Hoang-Ho and 
Yang-tse-Kiang (the yellow and blue streams) — next that of 
India, formed by the Ganges ; — less important is the Indus, 
which in the north, gives character to the Punjaub, and in the 
south flows through plains of sand. Farther on, the lands of 
the Tigris and Euphrates, which rise in Armenia and hold their 
course along the Persian mountains. The Caspian sea has 
similar river valleys ; in the East those formed by the Oxus and 
Jaxartes (Gihon and Sihon) which pour their waters into the 
Sea of Aral ; on the West those of the Cyrus and Araxes (Kur 
and Aras). — The Upland and the Plains must be distinguished 
from each other ; the third element is their intermixture, which 
occurs in Hither [Anterior] Asia. To this belongs Arabia, the 
land of the Desert, the upland of plains, the empire of fanaticism. 
To this belong Syria and Asia Minor, connected with the sea, 
and having constant intercourse with Europe. 

In regard to Asia the remark above offered respecting geo- 
graphical differences is especially true ; viz. that the rearing of 
cattle is the business of the Upland — agriculture and industrial 

pursuits that of the valley-plains — while commerce and naviga* 


tion form the third and last item. Patriarchal independence is 
strictly bound up with the first condition of society ; property 
and the relation of lord and serf with the second ; civil freedom 
with the third. In the Upland, where the various kinds of cat- 
tle breeding, the rearing of horses, camels, and sheep, (not so 
much of oxen) deserve attention, we must also distinguish the 
calm habitual life of nomad tribes from the wild and restless 
character they display in their conquests. These people, with- 
out developing themselves in a really historical form, are swayed 
by a powerful impulse leading them to change their aspect as 
nations ; and although they have not attained an historical char- 
acter, the beginning of History may be traced to them. It must 
however be allowed that the peoples of the plains are more in- 
teresting. In agriculture itself is involved, ipso facto, the ces- 
sation of a roving life. It demands foresight and solicitude for 
the future : reflection on a general idea is thus awakened ; and 
herein lies the principle of property and productive industry. 
China, India, Babylonia, have risen to the position of cultivated 
lands of this kind. But as the peoples that have occupied these 
lands have been shut up within themselves, and have not ap- 
propriated that element of civilization which the sea supplies, 
(or at any rate only at the commencement of their civilization) 
and as their navigation of it — to whatever extent it may have 
taken place — remained without influence on their culture — a re- 
lation to the rest of History could only exist in their case, 
through their being sought out, and their character investigated 
by others. The mountain-girdle of the upland, the upland itself, 
and the river-plains, characterize Asia physically and spiritu- 
ally: but they themselves are not concretely, really, historical 
elements. The opposition between the extremes is simply rec- 
ognized, not harmonized ; a firm settlement in the fertile plains 
is for the mobile, restless, roving, condition of the mountain 
and Upland races, nothing more than a constant object of en- 
deavor. Physical features distinct in the sphere of nature, as- 
sume an essential historical relation. — Anterior Asia has both 
elements in one, and has, consequently, a relation to Europe; 
for what is most remarkable in it, this land has not kept for 
itself, but sent over to Europe. It presents the origination of all 
religious and political principles, but Europe has been the scene 
of their development. 

Europe, to which we now come, has not the physical varies 


ties which we noticed in Asia and Africa. The European char- 
acter involves the disappearance of the contrast exhibited by 
earlier varieties, or at least a modification of it ; so that we have 
the milder qualities of a transition state. We have in Europe no 
uplands immediately contrasted with plains. The three sec- 
tions of Europe require therefore a different basis of classifica- 

The first part is Southern Europe — looking towards the 
Mediterranean. North of the Pyrenees, mountain-chains run 
through France, connected with the Alps that separate and cut 
off Italy from France and Germany. Greece also belongs to 
this part of Europe. Greece and Italy long presented the thea- 
tre of the World's History ; and while the middle and north of 
Europe were uncultivated, the World-Spirit found its home 

The second portion is the heart of Europe, which Caesar 
opened when conquering Gaul. This achievement was one of 
manhood on the part of the Roman General, and more produc- 
tive than that youthful one of Alexander, who undertook to 
exalt the East to a participation in Greek life ; and whose work, 
though in its purport the noblest and fairest for the imagination, 
soon vanished, as a mere Ideal, in the sequel. — In this centre 
of Europe, France, Germany, and England are the principal 

Lastly, the third part consists of the north-eastern States of 
Europe — Poland, Russia, and the Slavonic Kingdoms. They 
come only late into the series of historical States, and form and 
perpetuate the connection with Asia. In contrast with the 
physical peculiarities of the earlier divisions, these are, as al- 
ready noticed, not present in a remarkable degree, but counter- 
balance each other. 



IN the geographical survey, the course of the World's His« 
tory has been marked out in its general features. The 
Sun — the Light — rises in the East. Light is a simply self- 
involved existence; but though possessing thus in itself uni- 
versality, it exists at the same time as an individuality in the 
Sun. Imagination has often pictured to itself the emotions 
of a blind man suddenly becoming possessed of sight, behold- 
ing the bright glimmering of the dawn, the growing light, and 
the flaming glory of the ascending Sun. The boundless for- 
getfulness of his individuality in this pure splendor, is his first 
feeling — utter astonishment. But when the Sun is risen, this 
astonishment is diminished ; objects around are perceived, and 
from them the individual proceeds to the contemplation of his 
own inner being, and thereby the advance is made to the per- 
ception of the relation between the two. Then inactive con- 
templation is quitted for activity; by the close of day man has 
erected a building constructed from his own inner Sun; and 
when in the evening he contemplates this, he esteems it more 
highly than the original external Sun. For now he stands in a 
conscious relation to his Spirit, and therefore a free relation. 
If we hold this image fast in mind, we shall find it symbolizing 
the course of History, the great Day's work of Spirit. 

The History of the World travels from East to West, for 
Europe is absolutely the end of History, Asia the beginning. 
The History of the World has an East tear e^o^nv ; (the term 
East in itself is entirely relative), for although the Earth forms 
a sphere, History performs no circle round it, but has on the 
contrary a determinate East, viz., Asia. Here rises the outward 
physical Sun, and in the West it sinks down : here consentane- 
ously rises the Sun of self-consciousness, which diffuses a 



nobler brilliance. The History of the World is the discipline 
of the uncontrolled natural will, bringing it into obedience to 
a Universal principle and conferring subjective freedom. The 
East knew and to the present day knows only that One is Free ; 
the Greek and Roman world, that some are free; the German 
World knows that All are free. The first political form there- 
fore which we observe in History, is Despotism, the second 
Democracy and Aristocracy, the third Monarchy. 

To understand this division we must remark that as the 
State is the universal spiritual life, to which individuals by 
birth sustain a relation of confidence and habit, and in which 
they have their existence and reality — the first question is, 
whether their actual life is an unreflecting use and habit com- 
bining them in this unity, or whether its constituent individuals 
are reflective and personal beings having a properly subjective 
and independent existence. In view of this, substantial [objec- 
tive] freedom must be distinguished from subjective freedom. 
Substantial freedom is the abstract undeveloped Reason im- 
plicit in volition, proceeding to develop itself in the State. But 
in this phase of Reason there is still wanting personal insight 
and will, that is, subjective freedom; which is realized only 
in the Individual, and which constitutes the reflection of the 
Individual in his own conscience.* Where there is merely 
substantial freedom, commands and laws are regarded as some- 
thing fixed and abstract, to which the subject holds himself in 
absolute servitude. These laws need not concur with the desire 
of the individual, and the subjects are consequently like chil- 
dren, who obey their parents without will or insight of their 
own. But as subjective freedom arises, and man descends from 
the contemplation of external reality into his own soul, the 
contrast suggested by reflection arises, involving the Negation 
of Reality. The drawing back from the actual world forms 
ipso facto an antithesis, of which one side is the absolute Being 
— the Divine — the other the human subject as an individual. 
In that immediate, unreflected consciousness which character- 

* The essence of Spirit is self-determin- or several), and obeys it as if it were an 

ation or " Freedom. Where Spirit has alien, extraneous force, not the voice of 

attained mature growth, as in the man that Spirit of which he himself (though 

who acknowledges the absolute validity at this stage imperfectly) is an embodi- 

of the dictates of Conscience, the Indi- ment. The Philosophy of History ex- 

vidual is " a law to himself," and this hibits the successive stages by which he 

Freedom is " realized." But in lower reaches the consciousness, that it is Ml 

stages of morality and civilization, he own inmost being that thus governs him 

unconsciously projects this legislative prin- — i.e. a consciousness of seTf-determinat 

ciple into some governing power " (one tion or " Freedom," — Ed. 


izes the East, these two are not yet distinguished. The sub- 
stantial world is distinct from the individual, but the antithesis 
has not yet created a schism between (absolute and subjective) 

The first phase — that with which we have to begin — is the 
East. Unreflected consciousness — substantial, objective, spir- 
itual existence — forms the basis; to which the subjective will 
first sustains a relation in the form of faith, confidence, obedi- 
ence. In the political life of the East we find a realized rational 
freedom, developing itself without advancing to subjective free- 
dom. It is the childhood of History. Substantial forms consti- 
tute the gorgeous edifices of Oriental Empires in which we find 
all rational ordinances and arrangements, but in such a way, 
that individuals remain as mere accidents. These revolve round 
a centre, round the sovereign, who, as patriarch — not as despot 
in the sense of the Roman Imperial Constitution — stands at the 
head. For he has to enforce the moral and substantial : he has 
to uphold those essential ordinances which are already estab- 
lished; so that what among us belongs entirely to subjective 
freedom, here proceeds from the entire and general body of 
the State. The glory of Oriental conception is the One Indi- 
vidual as that substantial being to which all belongs, so that 
no other individual has a separate, existence, or mirrors himself 
in his subjective freedom. All the riches of imagination and 
Nature are appropriated to that dominant existence in which 
subjective freedom is essentially merged ; the latter looks for 
its dignity not in itself, but in that absolute object. All the 
elements of a complete State — even subjectivity — may be found 
there, but not yet harmonized with the grand substantial being. 
For outside the One Power — before which nothing can main- 
tain an independent existence — there is only revolting caprice, 
which, beyond the limits of the central power, roves at will 
without purpose or result. Accordingly we find the wild hordes 
breaking out from the Upland — falling upon the countries in 
question, and laying them waste, or settling down in them, and 
giving up their wild life; but in all cases resultlessly lost in 
the central substance. This phase of Substantiality, since it has 
not taken up its antithesis into itself and overcome it, directly 
divides itself into two elements. On the one side we see dura- 
tion, stability — Empires belonging to mere space, as it were 
(as distinguished from Time) — unhistorical History; — as for 


example, in China, the State based on the Family relation; — 
a paternal Government, which holds together the constitution 
by its provident care, its admonitions, retributive or rather 
disciplinary inflictions ; — a prosaic Empire, because the antith- 
esis of Form, viz., Infinity, Ideality, has not yet asserted itself. 
On the other side, the Form of Time stands contrasted with 
this spatial stability. The States in question, without under- 
going any change in themselves, or in the principle of their 
existence, are constantly changing their position towards each 
other. They are in ceaseless conflict, which brings on rapid 
destruction. The opposing principle of individuality enters into 
these conflicting relations; but it is itself as yet only uncon- 
scious, merely natural Universality — Light, which is not yet 
the light of the personal soul. This History, too (i.e., of the 
struggles before-mentioned) is, for the most part, really unhis- 
torical, for it is only the repetition of the same majestic ruin. 
The new element, which in the shape of bravery, prowess, mag- 
nanimity, occupies the place of the previous despotic pomp, 
goes through the same circle of decline and subsidence. This 
subsidence is therefore not really such, for through all this rest- 
less change no advance is made. History passes at this point — 
and only outwardly, i.e., without connection with the previous 
phase — to Central Asia. Continuing the comparison with the 
ages of the individual man, this would be the boyhood of His- 
tory, no longer manifesting the repose and trustingness of the 
child, but boisterous and turbulent. The Greek World may then 
be compared with the period of adolescence, for here we have 
individualities forming themselves. This is the second main 
principle in human History. Morality is, as in Asia, a prin- 
ciple ; but it is morality impressed on individuality, and conse- 
quently denoting the free volition of Individuals. Here, then, 
is the Union of the Moral with the subjective Will, or the 
Kingdom of Beautiful Freedom, for the Idea is united with 
a plastic form. It is not yet regarded abstractedly, but imme- 
diately bound up with the Real, as in a beautiful work of Art; 
the Sensuous bears the stamp and expression of the Spiritual. 
This Kingdom is consequently true Harmony ; the world of 
the most charming, but perishable or quickly passing bloom: 
it is the natural, unreflecting observance of what is becoming — 
not yet true Morality. The individual will of the Subject 
adopts unreflectingly the conduct and habit prescribed by Jus- 


tice and the Laws. The Individual is therefore in uncon- 
scious unity with the Idea — the social weal. That which in the 
East is divided into two extremes — the substantial as such, and 
the individuality absorbed in it — meets here. But these distinct 
principles are only immediately in unity, and consequently in- 
volve the highest degree of contradiction ; for this aesthetic 
Morality has not yet passed through the struggle of subjective 
freedom, in its second birth, its palingenesis; it is not yet puri- 
fied to the standard of the free subjectivity that is the essence 
of true morality. 

The third phase is the realm of abstract Universality (in 
which the Social aim absorbs all individual aims) : it is the 
Roman State, the severe labors of the Manhood of History. 
For true manhood acts neither in accordance with the caprice 
of a despot, nor in obedience to a graceful caprice of its own; 
but works for a general aim, one in which the individual per- 
ishes and realizes his own private object only in that general 
aim. The State begins to have an abstract existence, and to 
develop itself for a definite object, in accomplishing which its 
members have indeed a share, but not a complete and concrete 
one [calling their whole being into play] . Free individuals are 
sacrificed to the severe demands of the National objects, to 
which they must surrender themselves in this service of abstract 
generalization. The Roman State is not a repetition of such 
a State of Individuals as the Athenian Polis was. The genial- 
ity and joy of soul that existed there have given place to harsh 
and rigorous toil. The interest of History is detached from 
individuals, but these gain for themselves abstract, formal 
Universality. The Universal subjugates the individuals ; they 
have to merge their own interests in it ; but in return the ab- 
straction which they themselves embody — that is to say, their 
personality — is recognized: in their individual capacity they 
become persons with definite rights as such. In the same sense 
as individuals may be said to be incorporated in the abstract 
idea of Person, National Individualities (those of the Roman 
Provinces) have also to experience this fate: in this form of 
Universality their concrete forms are crushed, and incorporated 
with it as a homogeneous and indifferent mass. Rome be- 
comes a Pantheon of all deities, and of all Spiritual existence, 
but these divinities and this Spirit do not retain their proper 

vitality. — The development of the State in question proceeds 
Vol. 23 F — Classics 


in two directions. On the one hand, as based on reflection- 
abstract Universality — it has the express outspoken antithesis 
in itself: it therefore essentially involves in itself the struggle 
which that antithesis supposes; with the necessary issue, that 
individual caprice — the purely contingent and thoroughly 
worldly power of one despot — gets the better of that abstract 
universal principle. At the very outset we have the antithesis 
between the Aim of the State as the abstract universal principle 
on the one hand, and the abstract personality of the individual 
on the other hand. But when subsequently, in the historical 
development, individuality gains the ascendant, and the break- 
ing up of the community into its component atoms can only be 
restrained by external compulsion, then the subjective might of 
individual despotism comes forward to play its part, as if sum- 
moned to fulfil this task. For the mere abstract compliance 
with Law implies on the part of the subject of law the supposi- 
tion that he has not attained to self-organization and self-con- 
trol ; and this principle of obedience, instead of being hearty and 
voluntary, has for its motive and ruling power only the arbi- 
trary and contingent disposition of the individual ; so that the 
latter is led to seek consolation for the loss of his freedom in 
exercising and developing his private right. This is the purely 
zvorldly harmonization of the antithesis. But in the next place, 
the pain inflicted by Despotism begins to be felt, and Spirit 
driven back into its utmost depths, leaves the godless world, 
seeks for a harmony in itself, and begins now an inner life — 
a complete concrete subjectivity, which possesses at the same 
time a substantiality that is not grounded in mere external ex- 
istence. Within the soul therefore arises the Spiritual pacifica- 
tion of the struggle, in the fact that the individual personality, 
instead of following its own capricious choice, is purified and 
elevated into universality ; — a subjectivity that of its own free 
will adopts principles tending to the good of all — reaches, in 
fact, a divine personality. To that worldly empire, this Spir- 
itual one wears a predominant aspect of opposition, as the em- 
pire of a subjectivity that has attained to the knowledge of 
itself — itself in its essential nature—the Empire of Spirit in 
its full sense. 

The German world appears at this point of development — 
the fourth phase oi World-History. This would answer in the 
comparison with the periods of human life to its Old Age. The 


Old Age of Nature is weakness ; but that of Spirit is its perfect 
maturity and strength, in which it returns to unity with itself, 
but in its fully developed character as Spirit. — This fourth 
phase begins with the Reconciliation presented in Christianity ; 
but only in the germ, without national or political development. 
We must therefore regard it as commencing rather with the 
enormous contrast between the spiritual, religious principle, 
and the barbarian Real World. For Spirit as the consciousness 
of an inner World is, at the commencement, itself still in an 
abstract form. All that is secular is consequently given over 
to rudeness and capricious violence. The Mohammedan prin- 
ciple — the enlightenment of the Oriental World — is the first to 
contravene this barbarism and caprice. We find it developing 
itself later and more rapidly than Christianity; for the latter 
needed eight centuries to grow up into a political form. But 
that principle of the German World which we are now dis- 
cussing, attained concrete reality only in the history of the 
German Nations. The contrast of the Spiritual principle 
animating the Ecclesiastical State, with the rough and wild 
barbarism of the Secular State, is here likewise present. 
The Secular ought to be in harmony with the Spiritual prin- 
ciple, but we find nothing more than the recognition of that 
obligation. The Secular power forsaken by the Spirit, must 
in the first instance vanish in presence of the Ecclesiastical (as 
representative of Spirit) ; but while this latter degrades itself 
to mere secularity, it loses its influence with the loss of its 
proper character and vocation. From this corruption of the 
Ecclesiastical element — that is, of the Church — results the 
higher form of rational thought. Spirit once more driven back 
upon itself, produces its work in an intellectual shape, and be- 
comes capable of realizing the Ideal of Reason from the Sec- 
ular principle alone. Thus it happens, that in virtue of ele- 
ments of Universality, which have the principle of Spirit as 
their basis, the empire of Thought is established actually and 
concretely. The antithesis of Church and State vanishes. The 
Spiritual becomes reconnected with the Secular, and develops 
this latter as an independently organic existence. The State 
no longer occupies a position of real inferiority to the Church, 
and is no longer subordinate to it. The latter asserts no pre- 
rogative, and the Spiritual is no longer an element foreign to 
the State. Freedom has found the means of realizing its Ideal 


— its true existence. This is the ultimate result which the 
process of History is intended to accomplish, and we have to 
traverse in detail the long track which has been thus cursorily 
traced out. Yet length of Time is something entirely relative, 
and the element of Spirit is Eternity. Duration, properly 
speaking, cannot be said to belong to it. 



WE have to begin with the Oriental World, but not be- 
fore the period in which we discover States in it. 
The diffusion of Language and the formation of 
races lie beyond the limits of History. History is prose, and 
myths fall short of History. The consciousness of external 
definite existence only arises in connection with the power to 
form abstract distinctions and assign abstract predicates ; and 
in proportion as a capacity for expressing Laws (of natural or 
social life) is acquired, in the same proportion does the ability 
manifest itself to comprehend objects in an unpoetical form. 
While the ante-historical is that which precedes political life, 
it also lies beyond self-cognizant life; though surmises and 
suppositions may be entertained respecting that period, these 
do not amount to facts. The Oriental World has as its inherent 
and distinctive principle the Substantial (the Prescriptive), in 
Morality. We have the first example of a sub j Ligation of the 
mere arbitrary will, which is merged in this substantiality. 
Moral distinctions and requirements are expressed as Laws, 
but so that the subjective will is governed by these Laws as by 
an external force. Nothing sLibjective in the shape of disposi- 
tion, Conscience, formal Freedom, is recognized. Justice is 
administered only on the basis of external morality, and 
Government exists only as the prerogative of compulsion. 
Our civil law contains indeed some purely compulsory ordi- 
nances. I can be compelled to give up another man's property, 
or to keep an agreement which I have made ; but the Moral 
is not placed by us in the mere compulsion, but in the disposition 
of the subjects — their sympathy with the requirements of law. 
Morality is in the East likewise a subject of positive legislation, 
and although the moral prescriptions (the substance of their 


Ethics) may be perfect, what should be internal subjective sen- 
timent is made a matter of external arrangement. There is 
no want of a will to command moral actions, but of a will to 
perform them because commanded from within. Since Spirit 
has not yet attained subjectivity, it wears the appearance of 
spirituality still involved in the conditions of Nature. Since 
the external and the internal, Law and Moral Sense, are not 
yet distinguished — still form an undivided unity — so also do 
Religion and the State. The Constitution generally is a Theoc- 
racy, and the Kingdom of God is to the same extent also a 
secular Kingdom as the secular Kingdom is also divine. What 
we call God has not yet in the East been realized in conscious- 
ness, for our idea of God involves an elevation of the soul to 
the supersensual. While we obey, because what we are re- 
quired to do is confirmed by an internal sanction, there the Law 
is regarded as inherently and absolutely valid without a sense 
of the want of this subjective confirmation. In the law men 
recognize not their own will, but one entirely foreign. 

Of the several parts of Asia we have already eliminated as 
unhistorical, Upper Asia (so far and so long as its Nomad 
population do not appear on the scene of history), and Siberia. 
The rest of the Asiatic World is divided into four districts: 
first, the River- Plains, formed by the Yellow and Blue Stream, 
and the Upland of farther Asia — China and the Mongols. Sec- 
ondly, the valley of the Ganges and that of the Indus. The 
third theatre of History comprises the river-plains of the Oxus 
and Jaxartes, the Upland of Persia, and the other valley-plains 
of the Euphrates and Tigris, to which Hither-Asia attaches 
itself. Fourthly, the River-plain of the Nik. 

With China and the Mongols — the realm of theocratic des- 
potism — History begins. Both have the patriarchal constitu- 
tion for their principle — so modified in China, as to admit the 
development of an organized system of secular polity ; while 
among the Mongols it limits itself to the simple form of a 
spiritual, religious sovereignty. In China the Monarch is Chief 
as Patriarch. The laws of the state are partly civil ordinances, 
partly moral requirements ; so that the internal law — the knowl- 
edge on the part of the individual of the nature of his volition, 
as his own inmost self — even this is the subject of external 
statutory enactment. The sphere of subjectivity does not then, 
attain to maturity here, since moral laws are treated as legisla- 


tive enactments, and law on its part has an ethical aspect. All 
that we call subjectivity is concentrated in the supreme head of 
the State, who, in all his legislation has an eye to the health, 
wealth, and benefit of the whole. Contrasted with this secular 
Empire is the spiritual sovereignty of the Mongols, at the head 
of which stands the Lama, who is honored as God. In this 
Spiritual Empire no secular political life can be developed. 

In the second phase — the Indian realm — we see the unity 
of political organization — a perfect civil machinery, such as 
exists in China — in the first instance, broken up. The several 
powers of society appear as dissevered and free in relation to 
each other. The different castes are indeed, fixed ; but in view 
of the religious doctrine that established them, they wear the 
aspect of natural distinctions. Individuals are thereby still 
further stripped of proper personality — although it might ap- 
pear as if they derived gain from the development of the dis- 
tinctions in question. For though we find the organization 
of the State no longer, as in China, determined and arranged 
by the one all-absorbing personality (the head of the State) 
the distinctions that exist are attributed to Nature, and so be- 
come differences of Caste. The unity in which these divisions 
must finally meet, is a religious one; and thus arises Theo- 
cratic Aristocracy and its despotism. Here begins, therefore, 
the distinction between the spiritual consciousness and secular 
conditions; but as the separation implied in the above men- 
tioned distinctions is the cardinal consideration, so also we find 
in the religion the principle of the isolation of the constituent 
elements of the Idea; — a principle which posits the harshest 
antithesis — the conception of the purely abstract unity of God, 
and of the purely sensual Powers of Nature. The connection 
of the two is only a constant change — a restless hurrying from 
one extreme to the other — a wild chaos of fruitless variation, 
which must appear as madness to a duly regulated, intelligent 

The third important form — presenting a contrast to the im- 
movable unity of China and to the wild and turbulent unrest 
of India — is the Persian Realm. China is quite peculiarly Ori- 
ental ; India we might compare with Greece ; Persia on the 
other hand with Rome. In Persia namely, the Theocratic 
power appears as a Monarchy. Now Monarchy is that kind 
of constitution which does indeed unite the members of the 


body politic in the head of the government as in a point ; but 
regards that head neither as the absolute director nor the arbi- 
trary ruler, but as a power whose will is regulated by the same 
principle of law as the obedience of the subject. We have thus 
a general principle, a Law, lying at the basis of the whole, but 
which, still regarded as a dictum of mere Nature (not as free 
and absolute Truth) is clogged by an antithesis (that of formal 
freedom on the part of man as commanded to obey positive 
alien requirements). The representation, therefore, which 
Spirit makes of itself is, at this grade of progress, of a purely 
natural kind — Light. This Universal principle is as much a 
regulative one for the monarch as for each of his subjects, 
and the Persian Spirit is accordingly clear, illuminated — the 
idea of a people living in pure morality, as in a sacred com- 
munity. But this has on the one hand as a merely natural 
Ecclesia, the above antithesis still unreconciled ; and its sanc- 
tity displays the characteristics of a compulsory, external one. 
On the other hand this antithesis is exhibited in Persia in its 
being the Empire of hostile peoples, and the union of the most 
widely differing nations. The Persian Unity is not that ab- 
stract one of the Chinese Empire; it is adapted to rule over 
many and various nationalities, which it unites under the mild 
power of Universality as a beneficial Sun shining over all — 
waking them into life and cherishing their growth. This Uni- 
versal principle — occupying the position of a root only — allows 
the several members a free growth for unrestrained expansion 
and ramification. In the organization of these several peoples, 
the various principles and forms of life have full play and con- 
tinue to exist together. We find in this multitude of nations, 
roving Nomades; then we see in Babylonia and Syria com- 
merce and industrial pursuits in full vigor, the wildest sensual- 
ity, the most uncontrolled turbulence. The coasts mediate a 
connection with foreign lands. In the midst of this confusion 
the spiritual God of the Jews arrests our attention — like Brahm, 
existing only for Thought, yet jealous and excluding from his 
being and abolishing all distinct speciality of manifestations 
[avatars], such as are freely allowed in other religions. This 
Persian Empire, then — since it can tolerate these several prin- 
ciples, exhibits the Antithesis in a lively active form, and is 
not shut up within itself, abstract and calm, as are China and 
India — makes a real transition in the History of the t World. 


If Persia forms the external transition to Greek life, the 
internal, mental transition is mediated by Egypt. Here the 
antitheses in their abstract form are broken through ; a break- 
ing through which effects their nullification. This undeveloped 
reconciliation exhibits the struggle of the most contradictory 
principles, which are not yet capable of harmonizing them- 
selves, but, setting up the birth of this harmony as the prob- 
lem to be solved, make themselves a riddle for themselves and 
for others, the solution of which is only to be found in the 
Greek World. 

If we compare these kingdoms in the light of their various 
fates, we find the empire of the two Chinese rivers the only 
durable kingdom in the World. Conquests cannot affect such 
an empire. The world of the Ganges and the Indus has also 
been preserved. A state of things so destitute of (distinct) 
thought is likewise imperishable, but it is in its very nature 
destined to be mixed with other races — to be conquered and 
subjugated. While these two realms have remained to the 
present day, of the empires of the Tigris and Euphrates on the 
contrary nothing remains, except, at most, a heap of bricks ; 
for the Persian Kingdom, as that of Transition, is by nature 
perishable, and the Kingdoms of the Caspian Sea are given up 
to the ancient struggle of Iran and Turan. The Empire of the 
solitary Nile is only present beneath the ground, in its speech- 
less Dead, ever and anon stolen away to all quarters of the 
globe, and in their majestic habitations; — for what remains 
above ground is nothing else but such splendid tombs. 



WITH the Empire of China History has to begin, for it 
is the oldest, as far as history gives us any informa- 
tion ; and its principle has such substantiality, that for 
the empire in question it is at once the oldest and the newest. 
Early do we see China advancing to the condition in which it 
is found at this day ; for as the contrast between objective exist- 
ence and subjective freedom of movement in it, is still wanting, 
every change is excluded, and the fixedness of a character which 
recurs perpetually, takes the place of what we should call the 
truly historical. China and India lie, as it were, still outside the 
World's History, as the mere presupposition of elements whose 
combination must be waited for to constitute their vital prog- 
ress. The unity of substantiality and subjective freedom so en- 
tirely excludes the distinction and contrast of the two elements, 
that by this very fact, substance cannot arrive at reflection on 
itself — at subjectivity. The Substantial [Positive] in its moral 
aspect, rules therefore, not as the moral disposition of the Sub- 
ject, but as the despotism of the Sovereign. 

No People has a so strictly continuous series of Writers of 
History as the Chinese. Other Asiatic peoples also have ancient 
traditions, but no History. The Vedas of the Indians are not 
such. The traditions of the Arabs are very old, but are not 
attached to a political constitution and its development. But 
such a constitution exists in China, and that in a distinct and 
prominent form. The Chinese traditions ascend to 3000 years 
before Christ ; and the Shu-King, their canonical document, be- 
ginning with the government of Yao, places this 2357 years 
before Christ. It may here be incidentally remarked, that the 
other Asiatic kingdoms also reach a high antiquity. Accord- 
ing to the calculation of an English writer, the Egyptian his- 
tory (e.g.) reaches to 2207 years before Christ, the Assyrian to 

2221, the Indian to 2204. Thus the traditions respecting the 



principal kingdoms of the East reach to about 2300 years be- 
fore the birth of Christ. Comparing this with the history of the 
Old Testament, a space of 2400 years, according to the common 
acceptation, intervened between the Noachian Deluge and the 
Christian era. But Johannes von Muller has adduced weighty 
objections to this number. He places the Deluge in the year 
3473 before Christ — thus about 1000 years earlier — supporting 
his view by the Septuagint. I remark this only with the view 
of obviating a difficulty that may appear to arise when we meet 
with dates of a higher age than 2400 years before Christ, and yet 
find nothing about the Flood. — The Chinese have certain an- 
cient canonical documents, from which their history, consti- 
tution, and religion can be gathered. The Vedas and the Mo- 
saic records are similar books ; as also the Homeric poems. 
Among the Chinese these books are called Kings, and consti- 
tute the foundation of all their studies. The Shu-King contains 
their history, treats of the government of the ancient kings, and 
gives the statutes enacted by this or that monarch. The Y-King 
consists of figures, which have been regarded as the bases of the 
Chinese written character, and this book is also considered the 
groundwork of the Chinese Meditation. For it begins with the 
abstractions of Unity and Duality, and then treats of the con- 
crete existences pertaining to these abstract forms of thought. 
Lastly, the Shi-King is the book of the oldest poems in a great 
variety of styles. The high officers of the kingdom were an- 
ciently commissioned" to bring with them to the annual festival 
all the poems composed in their province within the year. The 
Emperor in full court was the judge of these poems, and those 
recognized as good received public approbation. Besides these 
three books of archives which are specially honored and studied, 
there are besides two others, less important, viz. the Li-Ki (or 
Li-King) which records the customs and ceremonial observ- 
ances pertaining to the Imperial dignity, and that of the State 
functionaries (with an appendix, Yo-King, treating of music) ; 
and the Tshun-tsin, the chronicle of the kingdom Lu, where 
Confucius appeared. These books are the groundwork of the 
history, the manners and the laws of China. 

This empire early attracted the attention of Europeans, al- 
though only vague stories about it had reached them. It was 
always marvelled at as a country which, self-originated, ap- 
peared to have no connection with the outer world. 


In the thirteenth century a Venetian (Marco Polo) explored 
it for the first time, but his reports were deemed fabulous. In 
later times, everything that he had said respecting its extent 
and greatness was entirely confirmed. By the lowest calcula- 
tion, China has 150,000,000 of inhabitants; another makes the 
number 200,000,000, and the highest raises it even to 300,000,- 
000. From the far north it stretches towards the south to India ; 
on the east it is bounded by the vast Pacific, and on the west it 
extends towards Persia and the Caspian. China Proper is over- 
populated. On both rivers, the Hoang-ho and the Yang-tse- 
Kiang, dwell many millions of human beings, living on rafts 
adapted to all the requirements of their mode of life. The popu- 
lation and the thoroughly organized State-arrangements, de- 
scending even to the minutest details, have astonished Euro- 
peans ; and a matter of especial astonishment is the accuracy 
with which their historical works are executed. For in China 
the Historians are some of the highest functionaries. Two 
ministers constantly in attendance on the Emperor, are com- 
missioned to keep a journal of everything the Emperor does, 
commands, and says, and their notes are then worked up and 
made use of by the Historians. We cannot go further into the 
minutiae of their annals, which, as they themselves exhibit no 
development, would only hinder us in ours. Their History 
ascends to very ancient times, in which Fohi is named as the 
Diffuser of culture, he having been the original civilizer of 
China. He is said to have lived in the twenty-ninth century be- 
fore Christ — before the time, therefore, at which the Shu-King 
begins ; but the mythical and prehistorical is treated by Chi- 
nese Historians as perfectly historical. The first region of 
Chinese history is the north-western corner — China Proper — 
towards that point where the Hoang-ho descends from the 
mountains ; for only at a later period did the Chinese empire 
extend itself towards the south, to the Yang-tse-Kiang. The 
narrative begins with the period in which men lived in a wild 
state, i.e. in the woods, when they fed on the fruits of the earth, 
and clothed themselves with the skins of wild beasts. There 
was no recognition of definite laws among them. To Fohi (who 
must be duly distinguished from Fo, the founder of a new 
religion) is ascribed the instruction of men in building them- 
selves huts and making dwellings. He is said to have directed 
their attention to the change and return of seasons, to barter 


and trade ; to have established marriage ; to have taught that 
Reason came from Heaven, and to have given instructions for 
rearing silkworms, building bridges, and making use of beasts 
of burden. The Chinese historians are very diffuse on the sub- 
ject of these various origins. The progress of the history is the 
extension of the culture thus originated, to the south, and the 
beginning of a state and a government. The great Empire 
which had thus gradually been formed, was soon broken up 
into many provinces, which carried on long wars with each 
other, and were then re-united into a Whole. The dynasties 
in China have often been changed, and the one now dominant 
is generally marked as the twenty-second. In connection with 
the rise and fall of these dynasties arose the different capital 
cities that are found in this empire. For a long time Nankin 
was the capital; now it is Pekin; at an earlier period other 
cities. China has been compelled to wage many wars with the 
Tartars, who penetrated far into the country. The long wall 
built by Shi-hoang-ti — and which has always been regarded as 
a most astounding achievement — was raised as a barrier against 
the inroads of the northern Nomades. This prince divided the 
whole empire into thirty-six provinces, and made himself es- 
pecially remarkable by his attacks on the old literature, espe- 
cially on the historical books and historical studies generally. 
He did this with the design of strengthening his own dynasty, 
by destroying the remembrance of the earlier one. After the 
historical books had been collected and burned, many hun- 
dreds of the literati fled to the mountains, in order to save what 
remained. Every one that fell into the Emperor's hands ex- 
perienced the same fate as the books. This Book-burning is a 
very important circumstance, for in spite of it the strictly canon- 
ical books were saved, as is generally the case. The first con- 
nection of China with the West occurred about 64 a.d. At that 
epoch a Chinese emperor despatched ambassadors (it is said) to 
visit the wise sages of the West. Twenty years later a Chinese 
general is reported to have penetrated as far as Judea. At the 
beginning of the eighth century after Christ, the first Christians 
are reputed to have gone to China, of which visit later visitors 
assert that they found traces and monuments. A Tartar king- 
dom, Lyau-Tong, existing in the north of China, is said to have 
been reduced and taken possession of by the Chinese with the 
help of the Western Tartars, about 1100 a.d. This, neverthe- 


less, gave these very Tartars an opportunity of securing a foot- 
ing in China. Similarly they admitted the Manchus with whom 
they engaged in war in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, 
which resulted in the present dynasty's obtaining possession of 
the throne. Yet this new dynasty has not effected further 
change in the country, any more than did the earlier conquest 
of the Mongols in the year 1281. The Manchus that live in 
China have to conform to Chinese laws, and study Chinese sci- 

We pass now from these few dates in Chinese history to the 
contemplation of the Spirit of the constitution, which has al- 
ways remained the same. We can deduce it from the general 
principle, which is, the immediate unity of the substantial Spirit 
and the Individual ; but this is equivalent to the Spirit of the 
Family, which' is here extended over the most populous of 
countries. The element of Subjectivity — that is to say, the re- 
flection upon itself of the individual will in antithesis to the 
Substantial (as the power in which it is absorbed) or the recog- 
nition of this power as one with its own essential being, in which 
it knows itself free — is not found on this grade of development. 
The universal Will displays its activity immediately through 
that of the individual : the latter has no self-cognizance at all in 
antithesis to Substantial, positive being, which it does not yet 
regard as a power standing over against it — as, (e.g.) in Judaism, 
the " Jealous God " is known as the negation of the Individual. 
In China the Universal Will immediately commands what the 
Individual is to do, and the latter complies and obeys with pro- 
portionate renunciation of reflection and personal independence. 
If he does not obey, if he thus virtually separates himself from 
the Substance of his being, inasmuch as this separation is not 
mediated by a retreat within a personality of his own, the pun- 
ishment he undergoes does not affect his subjective and in- 
ternal, but simply his outward existence. The element of sub- 
jectivity is therefore as much wanting to this political totality 
as the latter is on its side altogether destitute of a foundation 
in the moral disposition of the subject. For the Substance is 
simply an individual — the Emperor — whose law constitutes all 
the disposition. Nevertheless, this ignoring of inclination does 
not imply caprice, which would itself indicate inclination — 
that is, subjectivity and mobility. Here we have the One Be- 
ing of the State supremely dominant — the Substance, which, 


still hard and inflexible, resembles nothing but itself — includes 
no other element. 

This relation, then, expressed more definitely and more con- 
formably with its conception, is that of the Family. On this 
form of moral union alone rests the Chinese State, and it is 
objective Family Piety that characterizes it. The Chinese re- 
gard themselves as belonging to their family, and at the same 
time as children of the State. In the Family itself they are not 
personalities, for the consolidated unity in which they exist as 
members of it is consanguinity and natural obligation. In the 
State they have as little independent personality ; for there the 
patriarchal relation is predominant, and the government is 
based on the paternal management of the Emperor, who keeps 
all departments of the State in order. Five duties are stated 
in the Shu-King as involving grave and unchangeable funda- 
mental relations. 1. The mutual one of the Emperor and peo- 
ple. 2. Of the Fathers and Children. 3. Of an elder and 
younger brother. 4. Of Husband and Wife. 5. Of Friend and 
Friend. It may be here incidentally remarked, that the number 
Five is regarded as fundamental among the Chinese, and pre- 
sents itself as often as the number Three among us. They 
have five Elements of Nature — Air, Water, Earth, Metal, and 
Wood. They recognize four quarters of Heaven and a cen- 
tre. Holy places, where altars are erected, consist of four ele- 
vations, and one in the centre. 

The duties of the Family are absolutely binding, and estab- 
lished and regulated by law. The son may not accost the 
father, when he comes into the room ; he must seem to con- 
tract himself to nothing at the side of the door, and may not 
leave the room without his father's permission. When the 
father dies, the son must mourn for three years — abstaining 
from meat and wine. The business in which he was engaged, 
even that of the State, must be suspended, for he is obliged to 
quit it. Even the Emperor, who has just commenced his gov- 
ernment, does not devote himself to his duties during this time. 
No marriage may be contracted in the family within the period 
of mourning. Only the" having reached his fiftieth year ex- 
empts the bereaved from the excessive strictness of the regula- 
tions, which are then relaxed that he may not be reduced in 
person by them. The sixtieth year relaxes them still further, 
and the seventieth limits mourning to the color of the dress. 


A mother is honored equally with a father. When Lord Ma- 
cartney saw the Emperor, the latter was sixty-eight years old, 
(sixty years is among the Chinese a fundamental round num- 
ber, as one hundred is among us), notwithstanding which he 
visited his mother every morning on foot, to demonstrate his 
respect for hen The New Year's congratulations are offered 
even to the mother of the Emperor ; and the Emperor himself 
cannot receive the homage of the grandees of the court until 
he has paid his to his mother. The latter is the first and con- 
stant counsellor of her son, and all announcements concerning 
his family are made in her name. — The merits of a son are as- 
cribed not to him, but to his father. When on one occasion the 
prime minister asked the Emperor to confer titles of honor on 
his father, the Emperor issued an edict in which it was said: 
" Famine was desolating the Empire : Thy father gave rice to 
the starving. What beneficence ! The Empire was on the edge 
of ruin : Thy father defended it at the hazard of his life. What 
fidelity ! The government of the kingdom was intrusted to thy 
father : he made excellent laws, maintained peace and concord 
with the neighboring princes, and asserted the rights of my 
crown. What wisdom ! The title therefore which I award to 
him is: Beneficent, Faithful and Wise." — The Son had done 
all that is here ascribed to the Father. In this way ancestors — 
a fashion the reverse of ours — obtain titles of honor through 
their posterity. But in return, every Father of a Family is 
responsible for the transgressions of his descendants ; duties 
ascend, but none can be properly said to descend. 

It is a great object with the Chinese, to have children who 
may give them the due honors of burial, pay respect to their 
memory after death, and decorate their grave. Although a 
Chinese may have many wives, one only is the mistress of the 
house, and the children of the subordinate wives have to honor 
her absolutely as a mother. If a Chinese husband has no chil- 
dren by any of his wives, he may proceed to adoption with a 
view to this posthumous honor. For it is an indispensable 
requirement that the grave of parents be annually visited. Here 
lamentations are annually renewed, and many, to give full vent 
to their grief, remain there sometimes one or two months. The 
body of a deceased father is often kept three or four months 
in the house, and during this time no one may sit down on a 
chair or sleep in a bed. Every family in China has a Hall of 


Ancestors where all the members annually assemble ; thde are 
placed representations of those who have filled exalted posts, 
while the names of those men and women who have been of 
less importance in the family are inscribed on tablets ; the whole 
family then partake of a meal together, and the poor members 
are entertained by the more wealthy. It is said that a Man- 
darin who had become a Christian, having ceased to honor his 
ancestors in this way, exposed himself to great persecutions on 
the part of his relatives. The same minuteness of regulation 
which prevails in the relation between father and children, char- 
acterizes also that between the elder brother and the younger 
ones. The former has, though in a less degree than parents, 
claims to reverence. 

This family basis is also the basis of the Constitution, if we 
can speak of such. For although the Emperor has the right of 
a Monarch, standing at the summit of a political edifice, he ex- 
ercises it paternally. He is the Patriarch, and everything in the 
State that can make any claim to reverence is attached to him. 
For the Emperor is chief both in religious affairs and in sci- 
ence — a subject which will be treated of in detail further on. — 
This paternal care on the part of the Emperor, and the spirit 
of his subjects — who like children do not advance beyond the 
ethical principle of the family circle, and can gain for them- 
selves no independent and civil freedom — makes the whole an 
empire, administration, and social code, which is at the same 
time moral and thoroughly prosaic — that is, a product of the 
Understanding without free Reason and Imagination. 

The Emperor claims the deepest reverence. In virtue of his 
position he is obliged personally to manage the government, 
and must himself be acquainted with and direct the legislative 
business of the Empire, although the Tribunals give their assist- 
ance. Notwithstanding this, there is little room for the exercise 
of his individual will ; for the whole government is conducted 
on the basis of certain ancient maxims of the Empire, while 
his constant oversight is not the less necessary. The imperial 
princes are therefore educated on the strictest plan. Their 
physical frames are hardened by discipline, and the sciences are 
their occupation from their earliest years. Their education is 
conducted under the Emperor's superintendence, and they are 
early taught that the Emperor is the head of the State and there- 
fore must appear as the first and best in everything. An ex- 


amination of the princes takes place every year, and a circum- 
stantial report of the affair is published through the whole Em- 
pire, which feels the deepest interest in these matters. China 
has therefore succeeded in getting the greatest and best gov- 
ernors, to whom the expression " Solomonian Wisdom " might 
be applied; and the present Manchu dynasty has especially 
distinguished itself by abilities of mind and body. All the 
ideals of princes and of princely education which have been so 
numerous and varied since the appearance of Fenelon's " Tele- 
maque " are realized here. In Europe there can be no Solo- 
mons. But here are the place and the necessity for such govern- 
ment; since the rectitude, the prosperity, the security of all, 
depend on the one impulse given to the first link in the entire 
chain of this hierarchy. The deportment of the Emperor is 
represented to us as in the highest degree simple, natural, noble 
and intelligent. Free from a proud taciturnity or repelling hau- 
teur in speech or manners, he lives in the consciousness of his 
own dignity and in the exercise of imperial duties to whose 
observance he has been disciplined from his earliest youth. Be- 
sides the imperial dignity there is properly no elevated rank, 
no nobility among the Chinese; only the princes of the im- 
perial house, and the sons of the ministers enjoy any precedence 
of the kind, and they rather by their position than by their 
birth. Otherwise all are equal, and only those have a share in 
the administration of affairs who have ability for it. Official 
stations are therefore occupied by men of the greatest intellect 
and education. The Chinese State has consequently been often 
set up as an Ideal which may serve even us for a model. 

The next thing to be considered is the administration of the 
Empire. We cannot speak, in reference to China, of a Consti- 
tution; for this would imply that individuals and corporations 
have independent rights — partly in respect of their particular 
interests, partly in respect of the entire State. This element 
must be wanting here, and we can only speak of an administra- 
tion of the Empire. In China, we have the reality of absolute 
equality, and all the differences that exist are possible only in 
connection with that administration, and in virtue of the worth 
which a person may acquire, enabling him to fill a high post 
in the Government. Since equality prevails in China, but with- 
out any freedom, despotism is necessarily the mode of govern- 
ment. Among us, men are equal only before the law, and in 



the respect paid to the property of each ; but they have also 
many interests and peculiar privileges, which must be guaran- 
teed, if we are to have what we call freedom. But in the Chinese 
Empire these special interests enjoy no consideration on their 
own account, and the government proceeds from the Emperor 
alone, who sets it in movement as a hierarchy of officials ot- 
Mandarins. Of these, there are two kinds — learned and mil- 
itary Mandarins — the latter corresponding to our Officers. 
The Learned Mandarins constitute the higher rank, for, in 
China, civilians take precedence of the military. Government 
officials are educated at the schools; elementary schools are 
instituted for obtaining elementary knowledge. Institutions 
for higher cultivation, such as our Universities, may, perhaps, 
be said not to exist. Those who wish to attain high official posts 
must undergo several examinations — usually three in num- 
ber. To the third and last examination — at which the Em- 
peror himself is present — only those can be admitted who have 
passed the first and second with credit ; and the reward for hav- 
ing succeeded in this, is the immediate introduction into the 
highest Council of the Empire. The sciences, an acquaintance 
with which is especially required, are the History of the Em- 
pire, Jurisprudence, and the science of customs and usages, and 
of the organization and administration of government. Besides 
this, the Mandarins are said to have a talent for poetry of the 
most refined order. We have the means of judging of this, par- 
ticularly from the Romance, Ju-kiao-li, or, " The Two Cousins," 
translated by Abel Remusat : in this, a youth is introduced who 
having finished his studies, is endeavoring to attain high dig- 
nities. The officers of the army, also, must have some mental 
acquirements ; they too are examined ; but civil functionaries 
enjoy, at stated above, far greater respect. At the great festivals 
the Emperor appears with a retinue of two thousand Doctors, 
i.e. Mandarins in Civil Offices, and the same number of military 
Mandarins. (In the whole Chinese State, there are about 15,000 
civil, and 20,000 military Mandarins.) The Mandarins who 
have not yet obtained an office, nevertheless belong to the 
Court, and are obliged to appear at the great festivals in the 
Spring and Autumn, when the Emperor himself guides the 
plough. These functionaries are divided into eight classes. 
The first are those that attend the Emperor, then follow the 
viceroys, and so on. The Emperor governs by means of admin- 


istrative bodies, for the most part composed of Mandarins. The 
Council of the Empire is the highest body of the kind : it con- 
sists of the most learned and talented men. From these are 
chosen the presidents of the other colleges. The greatest pub- 
licity prevails in the business of government. The subordinate 
officials report to the Council of the Empire, and the latter lay 
the matter before the Emperor, whose decision is made known 
in the Court Journal. The Emperor often accuses himself of 
faults ; and should his princes have been unsuccessful in their 
examination, he blames them severely. In every Ministry, and 
in various parts of the Empire, there is a Censor (Ko-tao), who 
has to give the Emperor an account of everything. These Cen- 
sors enjoy a permanent office, and are very much feared. They 
exercise a strict surveillance over everything that concerns the 
government, and the public and private conduct of the Man- 
darins, and make their report immediately to the Emperor. 
They have also the right of remonstrating with and blaming 
him. The Chinese History gives many examples of the noble- 
mindedness and courage of these Ko-taos. For example : A 
Censor had remonstrated with a tyrannical sovereign, but had 
been severely repulsed. Nevertheless, he was not turned away 
from his purpose, but betook himself once more to the Em- 
peror to renew his remonstrances. Foreseeing his death, he 
had the coffin brought in with him, in which he was to be 
buried. It is related of the Censors, that — cruelly lacerated by 
the torturers and unable to utter a sound — they have even 
written their animadversions with their own blood in the sand. 
These Censors themselves form yet another Tribunal which has 
the oversight of the whole Empire. The Mandarins are respon- 
sible also for performing duties arising from unforeseen exigen- 
cies in the State. If famine, disease, conspiracy, religious dis- 
turbances occur, they have to report the facts ; not, however, to 
wait for further orders from government, but immediately to act 
as the case requires. The whole of the administration is thus 
covered by a network of officials. Functionaries are appointed 
to superintend the roads, the rivers, and the coasts. Everything 
is arranged with the greatest minuteness. In particular, great 
attention is paid to the rivers ; in the Shu-King are to be found 
many edicts of the Emperor, designed to secure the land from 
inundations. The gates of every town are guarded by a watch, 
and the streets are barred all night. Government officers are 


always answerable to the higher Council. Every Mandarin is 
also bound to make known the faults he has committed, every 
five years ; and the trustworthiness of his statement is attested 
by a Board of Control — the Censorship. In the case of any 
grave crime not confessed, the Mandarins and their families 
are punished most severely. From all this it is clear that the 
Emperor is the centre, around which everything turns ; con- 
sequently the well-being of the country and people depends on 
him. The whole hierarchy of the administration works more 
or less according to a settled routine, which in a peaceful con- 
dition of things becomes a convenient habit. Uniform and reg- 
ular, like the course of nature, it goes its own way, at one time 
as at another time ; but the Emperor is required to be the mov- 
ing, ever wakeful, spontaneously active Soul. If then the per- 
sonal character of the Emperor is not of the order described — 
namely, thoroughly moral, laborious, and while maintaining 
dignity,. full of energy — everything is relaxed, and the govern- 
ment is paralyzed from head to foot, and given over to care- 
lessness and caprice. For there is no other legal power or insti- 
tution extant, but this superintendence and oversight of the 
Emperor. It is not their own conscience, their own honor, 
which keeps the offices of government up to their duty, but an 
external mandate and the severe sanctions by which it is sup- 
ported. In the instance of the revolution that occurred in the 
middle of the seventeenth century, the last Emperor of the 
dynasty was very amiable and honorable ; but through the 
mildness of his character, the reins of government were relaxed, 
and disturbances naturally ensued. The rebels called the Man- 
chus into the country. The Emperor killed himself to avoid 
falling into the hands of his enemies, and with his blood wrote 
on the border of his daughter's robe a few words, in which he 
complained bitterly of the injustice of his subjects. A Man- 
darin, who was with him, buried him, and then killed himself 
on his grave. The Empress and her attendants followed the ex- 
ample. The last prince of the imperial house, who was besieged 
in a distant province, fell into the hands of the enemy and was 
put to death. All the other attendant Mandarins died a volun- 
tary death. 

Passing from the administration to the Jurisprudence of 
China, we find the subjects regarded as in a state of nonage, in 
virtue of the principle of patriarchal government. No inde- 


pendent classes or orders, as in India, have interests of their 
own to defend. All is directed and superintended from above. 
All legal relations are definitely settled by rules ; free sentiment 
— the moral standpoint generally — is thereby thoroughly ob- 
literated.* It is formally determined by the laws in what way 
the members of the family should be disposed towards each 
other, and the transgression of these laws entails in some cases 
severe punishment. The second point to be noticed here, is 
the legal externality of the Family relations, which becomes 
almost slavery. Every one has the power of selling himself 
and his children ; every Chinese buys his wife. Only the chief 
wife is a free woman. The concubines are slaves, and — like the 
children and every other chattel — may be seized upon in case 
of confiscation. 

A third point is, that punishments are generally corporal 
chastisements. Among us, this would be an insult to honor; 
not so in China, where the feeling of honor has not yet devel- 
oped itself. A dose of cudgelling is the most easily forgotten ; 
yet it is the severest punishment for a man of honor, who de- 
sires not to be esteemed physically assailable, but who is vulner- 
able in directions implying a more refined sensibility. But the 
Chinese do not recognize a subjectivity in honor ; they are the 
subjects rather of corrective than retributive punishment — as 
are children among us ; for corrective punishment aims at im- 
provement, that which is retributive implies veritable imputa- 
tion of guilt. In the corrective, the deterring principle is only 
the fear of punishment, not any consciousness of wrong; for 
here we cannot presume upon any reflection upon the nature 
of the action itself. Among the Chinese all crimes — those com- 
mitted against the laws of the Family relation, as well as against 
the State — are punished externally. Sons who fail in paying 
due honor to their Father or Mother, younger brothers who are 
not sufficiently respectful to elder ones, are bastinadoed. If 
a son complains of injustice done to him by his father, or a 
younger brother by an elder, he receives a hundred blows with 
a bamboo, and is banished for three years, if he is in the right; 

* It is evident that the term " moral terms, morality, moral government, etc., 
standpoint " is used here in the strict in reference to the Chinese; as they de- 
sense in which Hegel has defined it, in note morality only in the loose and or- 
his " Philosophy of Law," as that of the dinary meaning of the word — precepts or 
self-determination of subjectivity, free commands given with a view to produc- 
conviction of the Good. The reader, ing good behavior — without bringing 
therefore, should not misunderstand the into relief the element of internal con- 
use that continues to be made of the viction.— Ed. 



if not, he is strangled. If a son should raise his hand against 
his father, he is condemned to have his flesh torn from his 
body with red-hot pincers. The relation between husband and 
wife is, like all other family relations, very highly esteemed, and 
unfaithfulness — which, however, on account of the seclusion 
in which the women are kept, can very seldom present itself — 
meets with severe animadversion. Similar penalties await the 
exhibition on the part of a Chinese of greater affection to one 
of his inferior wives than to the matron who heads his estab- 
lishment, should the latter complain of such disparagement. 
In China, every Mandarin is authorized to inflict blows with 
the bamboo ; even the highest and most illustrious — Ministers, 
Viceroys, and even the favorites of the Emperor himself — are 
punished in this fashion. The friendship of the Emperor is 
not withdrawn on account of such chastisement, and they them- 
selves appear not sensibly touched by it. When, on one occa- 
sion, the last English embassy to China was conducted home 
from the palace by the princes and their retinue, the Master 
of the Ceremonies, in order to make room, without any cere- 
mony cleared the way among the princes and nobles with a 

As regards responsibility, the distinction between malice pre- 
pense and blameless or accidental commission of an act is not 
regarded ; for accident among the Chinese is as much charged 
with blame, as intention. Death is the penalty of accidental 
homicide. This ignoring of the distinction between accident 
and intention occasions most of the disputes between the Eng- 
lish and the Chinese ; for should the former be attacked by the 
latter — should a ship of war, believing itself attacked, defend 
itself, and a Chinese be killed as the consequence — the Chinese 
are accustomed to require that the Englishman who fired the 
fatal shot should lose his life. Everyone who is in any way 
connected with the transgressor, shares — especially in the case 
of crimes against the Emperor — the ruin of the actual offender : 
all his near kinsmen are tortured to death. The printers of an 
objectionable book and those who read it, are similarly exposed 
to the vengeance of the law. The direction which this state 
of things gives to private revenge is singular. It may be said 
of the Chinese that they are extremely sensitive to injuries and 
of a vindictive nature. To satisfy his revenge the offended per- 
son does not venture to kill his opponent, because the whole 


family of the assassin would be put to death; he therefore 
inflicts an injury on himself, to ruin his adversary. In many 
towns it has been deemed necessary to contract the openings of 
wells, to put a stop to suicides by drowning. For when anyone 
has committed suicide, the laws ordain that the strictest inves- 
tigation shall be made into the cause. All the enemies of the 
suicide are arrested and put to the torture, and if the person 
who has committed the insult which led to the act, can be dis- 
covered, he and his whole family are executed. In case of 
insult therefore, a Chinese prefers killing himself rather than 
his opponent; since in either case he must die, but in the for- 
mer contingency will have the due honors of burial, and may 
cherish the hope that his family will acquire the property of 
his adversary. Such is the fearful state of things in regard to 
responsibility and non- responsibility ; all subjective freedom 
and moral concernment with an action are ignored. In the 
Mosaic Laws, where the distinction between dolus, culpa, and 
casus, is also not yet clearly recognized, there is nevertheless 
an asylum opened for the innocent homicide, to which he may 
betake himself. — There is in China no distinction in the penal 
code between higher and lower classes. A field-marshal of the 
Empire, who had very much distinguished himself, was tra- 
duced on some account, to the Emperor; and the punishment 
for the alleged crime, was that he should be a spy upon those 
who did not fulfil their duty in clearing away the snow from 
the streets. — Among the legal relations of the Chinese we have 
also to notice changes in the rights of possession and the intro- 
duction of slavery, which is connected there with it. The soil 
of China, in which the chief possessions of the Chinese consist, 
was regarded only at a late epoch as essentially the property 
of the State. At that time the Ninth of all moneys from estates 
was allotted by law to the Emperor. At a still later epoch serf- 
dom was established, and its enactment has been ascribed to 
the Emperor Shi-hoang-ti, who in the year 213 B.C., built the 
Great Wall ; who had all the writings that recorded the ancient 
rights of the Chinese, burned ; and who brought many inde- 
pendent principalities of China under his dominion. His wars 
caused the conquered lands to become private property, and 
the dwellers on these lands, serfs. In China, however, the dis- 
tinction between Slavery and freedom is necessarily, not great, 
since all are equal before the Emperor — that is, all are alike 


degraded. As no honor exists, and no one has an individual 
right in respect of others, the consciousness of debasement pre- 
dominates, and this easily passes into that of utter abandon- 
ment. With this abandonment is connected the great immoral- 
ity of the Chinese. They are notorious for deceiving wherever 
they can. Friend deceives friend, and no one resents the at- 
tempt at deception on the part of another, if the deceit has 
not succeeded in its object, or comes to the knowledge of the 
person sought to be defrauded. Their frauds are most astutely 
and craftily performed, so that Europeans have to be painfully 
cautious in dealing with them. Their consciousness of moral 
abandonment shows itself also in the fact that the religion of 
Fo is so widely diffused ; a religion which regards as the High- 
est and Absolute — as God — pure Nothing; which sets up con- 
tempt for individuality, for personal existence, as the highest 

We come, then, to the consideration of the religious side of 
the Chinese Polity. In the patriarchal condition the religious 
exaltation of man has merely a human reference — simple moral- 
ity and right-doing. The Absolute itself, is regarded partly 
as the abstract, simple rule of this right-doing — eternal recti- 
tude; partly as the power which is its sanction. Except in 
these simple aspects, all the relations of the natural world, the 
postulates of subjectivity — of heart and soul — are entirely ig- 
nored. The Chinese in their patriarchal despotism need no 
such connection or mediation with the Highest Being; for 
education, the laws of morality and courtesy, and the com- 
mands and government of the Emperor embody all such con- 
nection and mediation as far as they feel the need of it. The 
Emperor, as he is the Supreme Head of the State, is also the 
Chief of its religion. Consequently, religion is in China essen- 
tially State-Religion. The distinction between it and Lamaism 
must be observed, since the latter is not developed to a State, 
but contains religion as a free, spiritual, disinterested con- 
sciousness. That Chinese religion, therefore, cannot be what 
we call religion. For to us religion means the retirement of 
the Spirit within itself, in contemplating its essential nature, its 
inmost Being. In these spheres, then, man is withdrawn from 
his relation to the State, and betaking himself to this retirement, 
is able to release himself from the power of secular govern- 
ment. But is, Cfcina religion has not risen to this grade, for true 
Vol. 23 G— Classics 


faith is possible only where individuals can seclude themselves 
— can exist for themselves independently of any external com- 
pulsory power. In China the individual has no such life ; — does 
not enjoy this independence: in any direction he is therefore 
dependent; in religion as well as in other things; that is, de- 
pendent on objects of nature, of which the most exalted is the 
material heaven. On this depend harvest, the seasons of the 
year, the abundance and sterility of crops. The Emperor, as 
crown of all — the embodiment of power — alone approaches 
heaven; individuals, as such, enjoy no such privilege. He it 
is, who presents the offerings at the four feasts ; gives thanks 
at the head of his court, for the harvest, and invokes blessings 
on the sowing of the seed. This " heaven " might be taken in 
the sense of our term " God," as the Lord of Nature (we say, 
for example, " Heaven protect us ! " ) ; but such a relation is 
beyond the scope of Chinese thought, for here the one isolated 
self -consciousness is substantial being, the Emperor himself, 
the Supreme Power. Heaven has therefore no higher meaning 
than Nature. The Jesuits indeed, yielded to Chinese notions 
so far as to call the Christian God, " Heaven " — " Tien " ; but 
they were on that account accused to the Pope by other Chris- 
tian Orders. The Pope consequently sent a Cardinal to China, 
who died there. A bishop who was subsequently despatched, 
enacted that instead of " Heaven," the term " Lord of Heaven ' 
should be adopted. The relation to Tien is supposed to be such, 
that the good conduct of individuals and of the Emperor brings 
blessing; their transgressions on the other hand cause want 
and evil of all kinds. The Chinese religion involves that primi- 
tive element of magical influence over nature, inasmuch as 
human conduct absolutely determines the course of events. If 
the Emperor behaves well, prosperity cannot but ensue ; Heaven 
must ordain prosperity. A second side of this religion is, that 
as the general aspect of the relation to Heaven is bound up with 
the person of the Emperor, he has also its more special bearings 
in his hands ; viz. the particular well-being of individuals and 
provinces. These have each an appropriate Genius (Chen), 
which is subject to the Emperor, who pays adoration only to 
the general Power of Heaven, while the several Spirits of the 
natural world follow his laws. He is thus made the proper 
legislator for Heaven as well as for earth. To these Genii, 
each of which enjoys a worship peculiar to itself, certain sculp- 



tured forms are assigned. These are disgusting idols, which 
iave not yet attained the dignity of art, because nothing spir- 
iual is represented in them. They are therefore only terrific, 
frightful and negative ; they keep watch — as among the Greeks 
do the River-Gods, the Nymphs, and Dryads — over single ele- 
ments and natural objects. Each of the five Elements has its 
genius, distinguished by a particular color. The sovereignty 
of the dynasty that occupies the throne of China also depends 
on a Genius, and this one has a yellow color. Not less does 
every province and town, every mountain and river possess an 
appropriate Genius. All these Spirits are subordinate to the 
Emperor, and in the Annual Directory of the Empire are regis- 
tered the functionaries and genii to whom such or such a brook, 
river, etc., has been intrusted. If a mischance occurs in any 
part, the Genius is deposed as a Mandarin would be. The 
Genii have innumerable temples (in Pekin nearly 10,000) to 
which a multitude of priests and convents are attached. These 
" Bonzes " live unmarried, and in all cases of distress are ap- 
plied to by the Chinese for counsel. In other respects, however, 
neither they nor the temples are much venerated. Lord Macart- 
ney's Embassy was even quartered in a temple — such buildings 
beings used as inns. The Emperor has sometimes thought fit 
to secularize many thousands of these convents ; to compel the 
Bonzes to return to civil life; and to impose taxes on the 
estates appertaining to the foundations. The Bonzes are sooth- 
sayers and exorcists: for the Chinese are given up to bound- 
less superstitions. This arises from the want of subjective 
independence, and presupposes the very opposite of freedom of 
Spirit. In every undertaking — e.g. if the site of a house, or of 
a grave, etc., is to be determined — the advice of the Sooth- 
sayers as asked. In the Y-King certain lines are given, which 
supply fundamental forms and categories — on account of which 
this book is called the " Book of Fates." A certain meaning 
is ascribed to the combination of such lines, and prophetic an- 
nouncements are deduced from this groundwork. Or a number 
of little sticks are thrown into the air, and the fate in question 
is prognosticated from the way in which they fall. What we 
regard as chance, as natural connection, the Chinese seek to 
deduce or attain by magical arts; and in this particular also, 
their want of spiritual religion is manifested. 

With this deficiency of genuine subjectivity is connected 



moreover, the form which Chinese Science assumes. In men- 
tioning Chinese sciences we encounter a considerable clamor 
about their perfection and antiquity. Approaching the subject 
more closely, we see that the sciences enjoy very great respect, 
and that they are even publicly extolled and promoted by the 
Government. The Emperor himself stands at the apex of lit- 
erature. A college exists whose special business it is to edit the 
decrees of the Emperor, with a view to their being composed 
in the best style; and this redaction assumes the character of 
an important affair of State. The Mandarins in their notifica- 
tions have to study the same perfection of style, for the form 
is expected to correspond with the excellence of the matter. 
One of the highest Governmental Boards is the Academy of 
Sciences. The Emperor himself examines its members; they 
live in the palace, and perform the functions of Secretaries, 
Historians of the Empire, Natural Philosophers, and Geogra- 
phers. Should a new law be proposed, the Academy must re- 
port upon it. By way of introduction to such report it must 
give the history of existing enactments ; or if the law in ques- 
tion affects foreign countries, a description of them is required. 
The Emperor himself writes the prefaces to the works thus 
composed. Among recent Emperors Kien-long especially dis- 
tinguished himself by his scientific acquirements. He himself 
wrote much, but became far more remarkable by publishing the 
principal works that China has produced. At the head of the 
commission appointed to correct the press, was a Prince of the 
Empire ; and after the work had passed through the hands of 
all, it came once more back to the Emperor, who severely pun- 
ished every error that had been committed. 

Though in one aspect the sciences appear thus pre-eminently 
honored and fostered, there are wanting to them on the other 
side that free ground of subjectivity, and that properly scientific 
interest, which make them a truly theoretical occupation of the 
mind. A free, ideal, spiritual kingdom has here no place. 
What may be called scientific is of a merely empirical nature, 
and is made absolutely subservient to the Useful on behalf of 
the State — its requirements and those of individuals. The nat- 
ure of their Written Language is at the outset a great hin- 
drance to the development of the sciences. Rather, conversely, 
because a true scientific interest does not exist, the Chinese 
have acquired no better instrument for representing and im- 


parting thought. They have, as is well known, beside a Spoken 
Language, a Written Language; which does not express, as 
our does, individual sounds — does not present the spoken words 
to the eye, but represents the ideas themselves by signs. This 
appears at first sight a great advantage, and has gained the 
suffrages of many great men — among others, of Leibnitz. In 
reality, it is anything but such. For if we consider in the first 
place, the effect of such a mode of writing on the Spoken Lan- 
guage, we shall find this among the Chinese very imperfect, on 
account of that separation. For our Spoken Language is 
matured to distinctness chiefly through the necessity of finding 
signs for each single sound, which latter, by reading, we learn 
to express distinctly. The Chinese, to whom such a means of 
orthoepic development is wanting, do not mature the modifica- 
tions of sounds in their language to distinct articulations capa- 
ble of being represented by letters and syllables. Their Spoken 
Language consists of an inconsiderable number of monosylla- 
bic words, which are used with more than one signification. 
The sole methods of denoting distinctions of meaning are the 
connection, the accent, and the pronunciation — quicker or 
slower, softer or louder. The ears of the Chinese have become 
very sensible to such distinctions. Thus I find that the word 
Po has eleven different meanings according to the tone: de- 
noting " glass " — " to boil " — " to winnow wheat " — " to cleave 
asunder " — " to water " — " to prepare " — ''" an old woman " — 
" a slave " — " a liberal man " — " a wise person " — " a little." — 
As to their Written Language, I will -pecify only the obstacles 
which it presents to the advance of he sciences. Our Written 
Language 1 is very simple for a leainer, as we analyze our 
Spoken Language into about twenty-five articulations, by 
which analysis, speech is rendered definite, the multitude of 
possible sounds is limited, and obscure intermediate sounds are 
banished: we have to learn only these signs and their combi- 
nations. Instead of twenty-five signs of this sort, the Chinese 
have many thousands to learn. The number necessary for use 
is reckoned at 9,353, or even 10,516, if we add those recently 
introduced ; and tne number of characters generally, for ideas 
and their combinations as they are presented in books, amounts 
to from 80,000 to 90,000. As to the sciences themselves, His- 
tory among the Chinese comprehends the bare and definite facts, 
without any opinion or reasoning upon them. In the same way 


their Jurisprudence gives only fixed laws, and their Ethics only 
determinate duties, without raising the question of a subjective 
foundation for them. The Chinese have, however, in addition 
to other sciences, a Philosophy, whose elementary principles 
are of great antiquity, since the Y-King — the Book of Fates — 
treats of Origination and Destruction. In this book are found 
the purely abstract ideas of Unity and Duality ; the Philosophy 
of the Chinese appears therefore to proceed from the same 
fundamental ideas as that of Pythagoras.* The fundamental 
principle recognized is Reason — Tao; that essence lying at the 
basis of the whole, which effects everything. To become ac- 
quainted with its forms is regarded among the Chinese also 
as the highest science; yet this has no connection with the 
educational pursuits which more nearly concern the State. The 
works of Lao-tse, and especially his work " Tao-te-King," are 
celebrated. Confucius visited this philosopher in the sixth cen- 
tury before Christ, to testify his reverence for him. Although 
every Chinaman is at liberty to study these philosophical works, 
a particular sect, calling itself Tao-tse, " Honorers of Reason," 
makes this study its special business. Those who compose it 
are isolated from civil life; and there is much that is enthusi- 
astic and mystic intermingled with their views. They believe, 
for instance, that he who is acquainted with Reason, possesses 
an instrument of universal power, which may be regarded as 
all-powerful, and which communicates a supernatural might; 
so that the possessor is enabled by it to exalt himself to Heaven, 
and is not subject to death (much the same as the universal 
Elixir of Life once talked of among us). With the works of 
Confucius we have become more intimately acquainted. To 
him, China owes the publication of the Kings, and many orig- 
inal works on Morality besides, which form the basis of the 
customs and conduct of the Chinese. In the principal work of 
Confucius, which has been translated into English, are found 
correct moral apophthegms; but there is a circumlocution, a 
reflex character, and circuitousness in the thought, which pre- 
vents it from rising above mediocrity. As to the other sciences, 
they are not regarded as such, but rather as branches of knowl- 
edge for the behoof of practical ends. The Chinese are far 
behind in Mathematics, Physics, and Astronomy, notwithstand- 

* Vide Hegel's " Vorlesungen uber die Geschichte der Philosophic," vol. i. p. 
J38, etc. 


ing their quondam reputation in regard to them. They knew 
many things at a time when Europeans had not discovered 
them, but they have not understood how to apply their knowl- 
edge : as e.g. the Magnet, and the Art of Printing. But they 
have made no advance in the application of these discoveries. 
In the latter, for instance, they continue to engrave the letters 
in wooden blocks and then print them off : they know nothing 
of movable types. Gunpowder, too, they pretended to have in- 
vented before the Europeans; but the Jesuits were obliged to 
found their first cannon. As to Mathematics, they understand 
well enough how to reckon, but the higher aspect of the science 
is unknown. The Chinese also have long passed as great as- 
tronomers. Laplace has investigated their acquisitions in this 
department, and discovered that they possess some ancient ac- 
counts and notices of Lunar and Solar Eclipses ; but these cer- 
tainly do not constitute a science. The notices in question are, 
moreover, so indefinite, that they cannot properly be put in the 
category of knowledge. In the Shu-King, e.g. we have two 
eclipses of the sun mentioned in the space of 1,500 years. 
The best evidence of the state of Astronomy among the Chi- 
nese, is the fact that for many hundred years the Chinese cal- 
endars have been made by Europeans. In earlier times, when 
Chinese astronomers continued to compose the calendar, false 
announcements of lunar and solar eclipses often occurred, en- 
tailing the execution of the authors. The telescopes which the 
Chinese have received as presents from the Europeans, are set 
up for ornament ; but they have not an idea how to make fur- 
ther use of them. Medicine, too, is studied by the Chinese, but 
only empirically; and the grossest superstition is connected 
with its practice. The Chinese have as a general characteristic, 
a remarkable skill in imitation, which is exercised not merely 
in daily life, but also in art. They have not yet succeeded in 
representing the beautiful, as beautiful ; for in their painting, 
perspective and shadow are wanting. And although a Chinese 
painter copies European pictures (as the Chinese do everything 
else) correctly; although he observes accurately how many 
scales a carp has ; how many indentations there are in the leaves 
of a tree; what is the form of various trees, and how the 
branches bend; — the Exalted, the Ideal and Beautiful is not 
the domain of his art and skill. The Chinese are, on the other 
hand, too proud to learn anything from Europeans, although 


they must often recognize their superiority. "A merchant in 
Canton had a European ship built, but at the command of the 
Governor it was immediately destroyed. The Europeans are 
treated as beggars, because they are compelled to leave their 
home, and seek for support elsewhere than in their own coun- 
try. Besides, the Europeans, just because of their intelligence, 
have not yet been able to imitate the superficial and perfectly 
natural cleverness of the Chinese. Their preparation of var- 
nishes — their working of metals, and especially their art of cast- 
ing them extremely thin — their porcelain manufacture and 
many other things, have not yet been completely mastered by 

This is the character of the Chinese people in its various as- 
pects. Its distinguishing feature is, that everything which 
belongs to Spirit — unconstrained morality, in practice and the- 
ory, Heart, inward Religion, Science and Art properly so- 
called — is alien to it. The Emperor always speaks with maj- 
esty and paternal kindness and tenderness to the people ; who, 
however, cherish the meanest opinion of themselves, and be- 
lieve that they are born only to drag the car of Imperial Power. 
The burden which presses them to the ground, seems to them 
to be their inevitable destiny ; and it appears nothing terrible 
to them to sell themselves as slaves, and to eat the bitter bread 
of slavery. Suicide, the result of revenge, and the exposure 
of children, as a common, even daily occurrence, show the little 
respect in which they hold themselves individually, and human- 
ity in general. And though there is no distinction conferred 
by birth, and everyone can attain the highest dignity, this very 
equality testifies to no triumphant assertion of the worth of the 
inner man, but a servile consciousness — one which has not yet 
matured itself so far as to recognize distinctions. 



INDIA, like China, is a phenomenon antique as well as mod- 
ern ; one which has remained stationary and fixed, and has 
received a most perfect home-sprung development. It has 
always been the land of imaginative aspiration,, and appears 
to us still as a Fairy region, an enchanted World. In contrast 
with the Chinese State, which presents only the most prosaic 
Understanding, India is the region of phantasy and sensibility. 
The point of advance in principle which it exhibits to us may 
be generally stated as follows : — In China the patriarchal prin- 
ciple rules a people in a condition of nonage, the part of whose 
moral resolution is occupied by the regulating law, and the 
moral oversight of the Emperor. Now it is the interest of 
Spirit that external conditions should become internal ones; 
that the natural and the spiritual World should be recognized 
in the subjective aspect belonging to intelligence; by which 
process the unity of subjectivity and [positive] Being generally 
— or the Idealism of Existence — is established. This Idealism, 
then, is found in India, but only as an Idealism of imagination, 
without distinct conceptions; — one which does indeed free ex- 
istence from Beginning and Matter [liberates it from temporal 
limitations and gross materiality] , but changes everything into 
the merely Imaginative ; for although the latter appears inter- 
woven with definite conceptions and Thought presents itself 
as an occasional concomitant, this happens only through acci- 
dental combination. Since, however, it is the abstract and 
absolute Thought itself that enters into these dreams as their 
material, we may say that Absolute Being is presented here 
as in the ecstatic state of a dreaming condition. For we have 
not the dreaming of an actual Individual, possessing distinct 
personality, and simply unfettering the latter from limitation, 
but we have the dreaming of the unlimited absolute Spirit. 



There is a beauty of a peculiar kind in women, in which their 
countenance presents a transparency of skin, a light and lovely 
roseate hue, which is unlike the complexion of mere health 
and vital vigor — a more refined bloom, breathed, as it were, 
by the soul within — and in which the features, the light of the 
eye, the position of the mouth, appear soft, yielding, and re- 
laxed. This almost unearthly beauty is perceived in women in 
those days which immediately succeed child-birth; when free- 
dom from the burden of pregnancy and the pains of travail is 
added to the joy of soul that welcomes the gift of a beloved 
infant. A similar tone of beauty is seen also in women during 
the magical somnambulic sleep, connecting them with a world 
of superterrestrial beauty. A great artist (Schoreel) has more- 
over given this tone to the dying Mary, whose spirit is already 
rising to the regions of the blessed, but once more, as it were, 
lights up her dying countenance for a farewell kiss. Such a 
beauty we find also in its loveliest form in the Indian World; 
a beauty of enervation in which all that is rough, rigid, and 
contradictory is dissolved, and we have only the soul in a state 
of emotion — a soul, however, in which the death of free self- 
reliant Spirit is perceptible. For should we approach the charm 
of this Flower-life — a charm rich in imagination and genius — 
in which its whole environment and all its relations are perme- 
ated by the rose-breath of the Soul, and the World is trans- 
formed into a Garden of Love — should we look at it more 
closely, and examine it in the light of Human Dignity and 
Freedom — the more attractive the first sight of it had been, 
so much the more unworthy shall we ultimately find it in 
every respect. 

The character of Spirit in a state of Dream, as the generic 
principle of the Hindoo Nature, must be further defined. In 
a dream, the individual ceases to be conscious of self as such, 
in contradistinction from objective existences. When awake, 
I exist for myself, and the rest of creation is an external, fixed 
objectivity, as I myself am for it. As external, the rest of 
existence expands itself to a rationally connected whole ; a 
system of relations, in which my individual being is itself a 
member — an individual being united with that totality. This 
is the sphere of Understanding. In the state of dreaming, on 
the contrary, this separation is suspended. Spirit has ceased 
to exist for itself in contrast with alien existence, and thus the 


separation of the external and individual dissolves before its 
universality — its essence. The dreaming Indian is therefore all 
that we call finite and individual; and, at the same time — as 
infinitely universal and unlimited — a something intrinsically 
divine. The Indian view of things is a Universal Pantheism, 
a Pantheism, however, of Imagination, not of Thought. One 
substance pervades the Whole of things, and all individualiza- 
tions are directly vitalized and animated into particular Powers. 
The sensuous matter and content are in each case simply and in 
the rough taken up, and carried over into the sphere of the 
Universal and Immeasurable. It is not liberated by the free 
power of Spirit into a beautiful form, and idealized in the 
Spirit, so that the sensuous might be a merely subservient and 
compliant expression of the spiritual ; but [the sensuous object 
itself] is expanded into the immeasurable and undefined, and 
the Divine is thereby made bizarre, confused, and ridiculous. 
These dreams are not mere fables — a play of the imagination, 
in which the soul only revelled in fantastic gambols: it is lost 
in them ; hurried to and fro by these reveries, as by something 
that exists really and seriously for it. It is delivered over to 
these limited objects as to its Lords and Gods. Everything, 
therefore — Sun, Moon, Stars, the Ganges, the Indus, Beasts, 
Flowers — everything is a God to it.. And while, in this deifica- 
tion, the finite loses its consistency and substantiality, intelli- 
gent conception of it is impossible. Conversely the Divine, 
regarded as essentially changeable and unfixed, is also by the 
base form which it assumes, defiled and made absurd. In this 
universal deification of all finite existence, and consequent 
degradation of the Divine, the idea of Theanthropy, the incar- 
nation of God, is not a particularly important conception. The 
parrot, the cow, the ape, etc., are likewise incarnations of God, 
yet are not therefore elevated above their nature. The Divine 
is not individualized to a subject, to concrete Spirit, but de- 
graded to vulgarity and senselessness. This gives us a general 
idea of the Indian view of the Universe. Things are as much 
stripped of rationality, of finite consistent stability of cause and 
effect, as man is of the steadfastness of free individuality, of 
personality, and freedom. 

Externally, India sustains manifold relations to the History 
of the World. In recent times the discovery has been made, 
that the Sanscrit lies at the foundation of all those further 


developments which form the languages of Europe; e.g. the 
Greek, Latin, German. India, moreover, was the centre of 
emigration for all the western world ; but this external histor- 
ical relation is to be regarded rather as a merely physical 
diffusion of peoples from this point. Although in India the 
elements of further developments might be discovered, and al- 
though we could find traces of their being transmitted to the 
West, this transmission has been nevertheless so abstract [so 
superficial], that that which among later peoples attracts our 
interest, is not anything derived from India, but rather some- 
thing concrete, which they themselves have formed, and in re- 
gard to which they have done their best to forget Indian ele- 
ments of culture. The spread of Indian culture is prehistorical, 
for History is limited to that which makes an essential epoch 
in the development of Spirit. On the whole, the diffusion of 
Indian culture is only a dumb, deedless expansion; that is, it 
presents no political action. The people of India have achieved 
no foreign conquests, but have been on every occasion van- 
quished themselves. And as in this silent way, Northern India 
has been a centre of emigration, productive of merely physical 
diffusion, India as a Land of Desire forms an essential element 
in General History. From the most ancient times downwards, 
all nations have directed their wishes and longings to gaining 
access to the treasures of this land of marvels, the most costly 
which the Earth presents; treasures of Nature — pearls, dia- 
monds, perfumes, rose-essences, elephants, lions, etc. — as also 
treasures of wisdom. The way by which these treasures have 
passed to the West, has at all times been a matter of World- 
historical importance, bound up with the fate of nations. Those 
wishes have been realized ; this Land of Desire has been at- 
tained ; there is scarcely any great nation of the East, nor of 
the Modern European West, that has not gained for itself a 
smaller or larger portion of it. In the old world, Alexander 
the Great was the first to penetrate by land to India, but even 
he only just touched it. The Europeans of the modern world 
have been able to enter into direct connection with this land 
of marvels only circuitously from the other side ; and by way 
of the sea, which, as has been said, is the general uniter of coun- 
tries. The English, or rather the East India Company, are the 
lords of the land; for it is the necessary fate of Asiatic Em- 
pires to be subjected to Europeans ; and China will, some day 


or other, be obliged to submit to this fate. The number of in- 
habitants is near 200,000,000, of whom from 100,000,000 to 
112,000,000 are directly subject to the English. The Princes 
who are not immediately subject to them have English Agents 
at their Courts, and English troops in. their pay. Since the 
country of the Mahrattas was conquered by the English, no 
part of India has asserted its independence of their sway. They 
have already gained a footing in the Burman Empire, and 
passed the Brahmaputra, which bounds India on the east. 

India Proper is the country which the English divide into 
two large sections : the Deccan — the great peninsula which has 
the Bay of Bengal on the east, and the Indian Sea on the west — 
and Hindostan, formed by the valley of the Ganges, and ex- 
tending in the direction of Persia. To the northeast, Hin- 
dostan is bordered by the Himalaya, which has been ascer- 
tained by Europeans to be the highest mountain range in the 
world, for its summits are about 26,000 feet above the level 
of the sea. On the other side of the mountains the level again 
declines; the dominion of the Chinese extends to that point, 
and when the English wished to go to Lassa to the Dalai-Lama, 
they were prevented by the Chinese. Towards the west of 
India flows the Indus, in which the five rivers are united, which 
are called the Pent jab (Punjab), into which Alexander the 
Great penetrated. The dominion of the English does not ex- 
tend to the Indus ; the sect of the Sikhs inhabits that district, 
whose constitution is thoroughly democratic, and who have 
broken off from the Indian as well as from the Mohammedan 
religion, and occupy an intermediate ground — acknowledging 
only one Supreme Being. They are a powerful nation, and 
have reduced to subjection Cabul and Cashmere. Besides these 
there dwell along the Indus genuine Indian tribes of the War- 
rior-Caste. Between the Indus and its twin-brother, the Gan- 
ges, are great plains. The Ganges, on the other hand, forms 
large Kingdoms around it, in which the sciences have been so 
highly developed, that the countries around the Ganges enjoy a 
still greater reputation than those around the Indus. The King- 
dom of Bengal is especially flourishing. The Nerbuddah forms 
the boundary between the Deccan and Hindostan. The penin- 
sula of the Deccan presents a far greater variety than Hindo- 
stan, and its rivers possess almost as great a sanctity as the 
Indus and the Ganges — which latter has become a general name 


for all the rivers in India, as the River tear l^oyfyv. We call 
the inhabitants of the great country which we have now to 
consider Indians, from the river Indus (the English call them 
Hindoos). They themselves have never given a name to the 
whole, for it has never become one Empire, and yet we consider 
it as such. 

With regard to the political life of the Indians, we must first 
consider the advance it presents in contrast with China. In 
China there prevailed an equality among all the individuals 
composing the empire; consequently all government was ab- 
sorbed in its centre, the Emperor, so that individual members 
could not attain to independence and subjective freedom. The 
next degree in advance of this Unity is Difference, maintaining 
its independence against the all-subduing power of Unity. An 
organic life requires in the first place One Soul, and in the 
second place, a divergence into differences, which become or- 
ganic members, and in their several offices develop themselves 
to a complete system ; in such a way, however, that their activ- 
ity reconstitutes that one soul. This freedom of separation is 
wanting in China. The deficiency is that diversities cannot 
attain to independent existence. In this respect, the essential 
advance is made in India, viz. : that independent members 
ramify from the unity of despotic power. Yet the distinctions 
which these imply are referred to Nature. Instead of stimu- 
lating the activity of a soul as their centre of union, and spon- 
taneously realizing that soul — as is the case in organic life 
— they petrify and become rigid, and by their stereotyped char- 
acter condemn the Indian people to the most degrading spir- 
itual serfdom. The distinctions in question are the Castes. In 
every rational State there are distinctions which must manifest 
themselves. Individuals must arrive at subjective freedom, and 
in doing so, give an objective form to these diversities. But 
Indian culture has not attained to a recognition of freedom 
and inward morality; the distinctions which prevail are only 
those of occupations, and civil conditions. In a free state also, 
such diversities give rise to particular classes, so combined, 
however, that their members can maintain their individuality. 
In India we have only a division in masses — a division, how- 
ever, that influences the whole political life and the religious 
consciousness. The distinctions of class, like that [rigid] Unity 
in China, remain consequently on the same original grade of 


substantiality, i.e. they are not the result of the free subjec- 
tivity of individuals. Examining the idea of a State and its 
various functions, we recognize the first essential function as 
that whose scope is the absolutely Universal; of which man 
becomes conscious first in Religion, then in Science. God, the 
Divine [to Qelov] is the absolutely Universal. The highest 
class therefore will be the one by which the Divine is presented 
and brought to bear on the community — the class of Brahmins. 
The second element or class, will represent subjective power 
and valor. Such power must assert itself, in order that the 
whole may stand its ground, and retain its integrity against 
other such totalities or states. This class is that of the Warriors 
and Governors — the Cshatriyas; although Brahmins often be- 
come governors. The third order of occupation recognized is 
that which is concerned with the specialities of life — the satis- 
fying of its necessities — and comprehends agriculture, crafts 
and trade ; the class of the Vaisyas. Lastly, the fourth element 
is the class of service, the mere instrument for the comfort of 
others, whose business it is to work for others for wages af- 
fording a scanty subsistence — the caste of Sudras. This servile 
class — properly speaking — constitutes no special organic class 
in the state, because its members only serve individuals: their 
occupations are therefore dispersed among them and are con- 
sequently attached to that of the previously mentioned castes. — 
Against the existence of " classes " generally, an objection has 
been brought — especially in modern times — drawn from the 
consideration of the State in its "aspect" of abstract equity. 
But equality in civil life is something absolutely impossible; 
for individual distinctions of sex and age will always assert 
themselves ; and even if an equal share in the government is 
accorded to all citizens, women and children are immediately 
passed by, and remain excluded. The distinction between pov- 
erty and riches, the influence of skill and talent, can be as little 
ignored — utterly refuting those abstract assertions. But while 
this principle leads us to put up with variety of occupations, and 
distinction of the classes to which they are intrusted, we are 
met here in India by the peculiar circumstance that the indi- 
vidual belongs to such a class essentially by birth, and is bound 
to it for life. All the concrete vitality that makes its appear- 
ance sinks back into death. A chain binds down the life that 
was just upon the point of breaking forth. The promise of 


freedom which these distinctions hold out is therewith com- 
pletely nullified. What birth has separated mere arbitrary 
choice has no right to join together again : therefore, the castes 
preserving distinctness from their very origin, are presumed 
not to be mixed or united by marriage. Yet even Arrian (Ind. 
II ) reckoned seven castes, and in later times more than thirty 
have been made out ; which, notwithstanding all obstacles, have 
arisen from the union of the various classes. Polygamy neces- 
sarily tends to this. A Brahmin, e.g. is allowed three wives 
from the three other castes, provided he has first taken one 
from his own. The offspring of such mixtures originally be- 
longed to no caste, but one of the kings invented a method of 
classifying these casteless persons, which involved also the com- 
mencement of arts and manufactures. The children in question 
were assigned to particular employments; one section became 
weavers, another wrought in iron, and thus different classes 
arose from these different occupations. The highest of these 
mixed castes consists of those who are born from the marriage 
of a Brahmin with a wife of the Warrior caste; the lowest 
is that of the Chandalas, who have to remove corpses, to exe- 
cute criminals, and to perform impure offices generally. The 
members of this caste are excommunicated and detested; and 
are obliged to live separate and far from association with others. 
The Chandalas are obliged to move out of the way for their 
superiors, and a Brahmin may knock down any that neglect 
to do so. If a Chandala drinks out of a pond it is defiled, and 
requires to be consecrated afresh. 

We must next consider the relative position of these castes. 
Their origin is referred to a myth, which tells us that the 
Brahmin caste proceeded from Brahma's mouth ; the Warrior 
caste from his arms ; the industrial classes from his loins ; the 
servile caste from his foot. Many historians have set up the 
hypothesis that the Brahmins originally formed a separate 
sacerdotal nation, and this fable is especially countenanced by 
the Brahmins themselves. A people consisting of priests alone 
is, assuredly, the greatest absurdity, for we know a priori, that 
a distinction of classes can exist only within a people ; in every 
nation the various occupations of life must present themselves, 
for they belong to the objectivity of Spirit. One class necessarily 
supposes another, and the rise of castes generally, is only a re- 
sult of the united life of a nation. A nation of priests cannot 


exist without agriculturists and soldiers. Classes cannot be 
brought together from without ; they are developed only from 
within. They come forth from the interior of national life, 
and not conversely. But that these distinctions are here attrib- 
uted to Nature, is a necessary result of the Idea which the East 
embodies. For while the individual ought properly to be em- 
powered to choose his occupation, in the East, on the contrary, 
internal subjectivity is not yet recognized as independent; and 
if distinction obtrude themselves, their recognition is accom- 
panied by the belief that the individual does not choose his par- 
ticular position for himself, but receives it from Nature. In 
China the people are dependent — without distinction of classes 
— on the laws and moral decision of the Emperor ; consequently 
on a human will. Plato, in his Republic, assigns the arrange- 
ment in different classes with a view to various occupations, 
to the choice of the governing body. Here, therefore, a moral, 
a spiritual power is the arbiter. In India, Nature is this gov- 
erning power. But this natural destiny need not have led to 
that degree of degradation which we observe here, if the dis- 
tinctions had been limited to occupation with what is earthly — 
to forms of objective Spirit. In the feudalism of mediaeval 
times, individuals were also confined to a certain station in life ; 
but for all there was a Higher Being, superior to the most 
exalted earthly dignity, and admission to holy orders was open 
to all. This is the grand distinction, that here Religion holds 
the same position towards all; that, although the son of a 
mechanic becomes a mechanic, the son of a peasant a peasant, 
and free choice is often limited by many restrictive circum- 
stances, the religions element stands in the same relation to all, 
and all are invested with an absolute value by religion. In 
India the direct contrary is the case. Another distinction be- 
tween the classes of society as they exist in the Christian world 
and those in Hindostan is the moral dignity which exists among 
us in every class, constituting that which man must possess 
in and through himself. In this respect the higher classes are 
equal to the lower; and while religion is the higher sphere in 
which all sun themselves, equality before the law — rights of 
person and of property — are gained for every class. But by 
the fact that in India, as already observed, differences extend 
not only to the objectivity of Spirit, but also to its absolute 
subjectivity, and thus exhaust all its relations — neither moral- 
ity, nor justice, nor religiosity is to be found. 


Every caste has its especial duties and rights. Duties and 
rights, therefore, are not recognized as pertaining to mankind 
generally, but as those of a particular caste. While we say, 
" Bravery is a virtue," the Hindoos say, on the contrary, " Bra- 
very is the virtue of the Cshatryas." Humanity generally, hu- 
man duty and human feeling do not manifest themselves; we 
find only duties assigned to the several castes. Everything is 
petrified into these distinctions, and over this petrifaction a 
capricious destiny holds sway. Morality and human dignity 
are unknown ; evil passions have their full swing ; the Spirit 
wanders into the Dream- World, and the highest state is An- 

To gain a more accurate idea of what the Brahmins are, and 
in what the BrahminiCal dignity consists, we must investigate 
the Hindoo religion and the conceptions it involves, to which 
we shall have to return further on; for the respective rights 
of castes have their basis in a religious relation. Brahma 
(neuter) is the Supreme in Religion, but there are besides 
chief divinities Brahma (masc.) Vishnu or Krishna — incarnate 
in infinitely diverse forms — and Siva. These form a connected 
Trinity. Brahma is the highest ; but Vishnu or Krishna, Siva, 
the Sun moreover, the Air, etc., are also Brahm, i.e. Substantial 
Unity. To Brahm itself no sacrifices are offered ; it is not 
honored ; but prayers are presented to all other idols. Brahm 
itself is the Substantial Unity of All. The highest religious 
position of man, therefore is, being exalted to Brahm. If a 
Brahmin is asked what Brahm is, he answers: When I fall 
back within myself, and close all external senses, and say dm 
to myself, that is Brahm. Abstract unity with God is realized 
in this abstraction from humanity. An abstraction of this kind 
may in some cases leave everything else unchanged, as does 
devotional feeling, momentarily excited. But among the Hin- 
doos it holds a negative position towards all that is concrete; 
and the highest state is supposed to be this exaltation, by which 
the Hindoo raises himself to deity. The Brahmins, in virtue 
of their birth, are already in possession of the Divine. The 
distinction of castes involves, therefore, a distinction between 
present deities and mere limited mortals. The other castes may 
likewise become partakers in a Regeneration; but they must 
subject themselves to immense self-denial, torture and penance. 
Contempt of life, and of living humanity, is the chief feature 


in this ascesis. A large number of the non-Brahminical popu- 
lation strive to attain Regeneration. They are called Yogis. 
An Englishman who, on a journey to Thibet to visit the Dalai- 
Lama, met such a Yogi, gives the following account : The Yogi 
was already on the second grade in his ascent to Brahminical 
dignity. He had passed the first grade by remaining for twelve 
years on his legs, without ever sitting or lying down. At first 
he had bound himself fast to a tree with a rope, until he had 
accustomed himself to sleep standing. The second grade re- 
quired him to keep his hands clasped together over his head 
for twelve years in succession. Already his nails had almost 
grown into his hands. The third grade is not always passed 
through in the same way; generally the Yogi has to spend a 
day between five fires, that is, between four fires occupying the 
four quarters of heaven, and the Sun. He must then swing 
backwards and forwards over the fire, a ceremony occupying 
three hours and three-quarters. Englishmen present at an act 
of this kind, say that in half an hour the blood streamed forth 
from every part of the devotee's body ; he was taken down and 
presently died. If this trial is also surmounted, the aspirant 
is finally buried alive, that is put into the ground in an upright 
position and quite covered over with soil; after three hours 
and three-quarters he is drawn out, and if he lives, he is sup- 
posed to have at last attained the spiritual power of a Brahmin. 
Thus only by such negation of his existence does anyone 
attain Brahminical power. In its highest degree this negation 
consists in a sort of hazy consciousness of having attained per- 
fect mental immobility — the annihilation of all emotion and all 
volition ; — a condition which is regarded as the highest among 
the Buddhists also. However pusillanimous and effeminate 
the Hindoos may be in other respects, it is evident how littlo- 
they hesitate to sacrifice themselves to the Highest — to Annihi- 
lation. Another instance of the same is the fact of wives burn- 
ing themselves after the death of their husbands. Should a 
woman contravene this traditional usage, she would be severed 
from society, and perish in solitude. An Englishman states 
that he also saw a woman burn herself because she had lost her 
child. He did all that he could to divert her away from her 
purpose; at last he applied to her husband who was standing 
by, but he showed himself perfectly indifferent, as he had more 
wives at home. Sometimes twenty women are seen throwing 


themselves at once into the Ganges, and on the Himalaya 
range an English traveller found three women seeking the 
source of the Ganges, in order to put an end to their life in this 
holy river. At a religious festival in the celebrated temple 
of Juggernaut in Orissa, on the Bay of Bengal, where millions 
of Hindoos assemble, the image of the god Vishnu is drawn 
in procession on a car : about five hundred men set it in motion, 
and many fling themselves down before its wheels to be crushed 
to pieces. The whole seashore is already strewed with the 
bodies of persons who have thus immolated themselves. In- 
fanticide is also very common in India. Mothers throw their 
children into the Ganges, or let them pine away under the rays 
of the sun. The morality which is involved in respect for 
human life is not found among the Hindoos. There are be- 
sides those already mentioned, infinite modifications of the same 
principle of conduct, all pointing to annihilation. This, e.g., 
is the leading principle of the Gymnosophists, as the Greeks 
called them. Naked Fakirs wander about without any occupa- 
tion, like the mendicant friars of the Catholic church; live on 
the alms of others, and make it their aim to reach the highest 
degree of abstraction — the perfect deadening of consciousness ; 
a point from which the transition to physical death is no great 

This elevation which others can only attain by toilsome labor 
is, as already stated, the birthright of the Brahmins. The Hin- 
doo of another caste, must, therefore, reverence the Brahmin 
as a divinity ; fall down before him, and say to him : " Thou 
art God." And this elevation cannot have anything to do with 
moral conduct, but — inasmuch as all internal morality is ab- 
sent — is rather dependent on a farrago of observances relating 
to the merest externalities and trivialities of existence. Human 
life, it is said, ought to be a perpetual Worship of God. It is 
evident how hollow such general aphorisms are, when we con- 
sider the concrete forms which they may assume. They require 
another, a further qualification, if they are to have a meaning. 
The Brahmins are a present deity, but their spirituality has 
not yet been reflected inwards in contrast with Nature ; and 
thus that which is purely indifferent is treated as of absolute 
importance. The employment of the Brahmins consists prin- 
cipally in the reading of the Vedas : they only have a right to 
read them. Were a Sudra to read the Vedas, or to hear them 



read, he would be severely punished, and burning oil must be 
poured into his ears. The external observances binding on the 
Brahmins are prodigiously numerous, and the Laws of Manu 
treat of them as the most essential part of duty. The Brahmin 
must rest on one particular foot in rising, then wash in a river ; 
his hair and nails must be cut in neat curves, his whole body 
purified, his garments white; in his hand must be a staff of 
a specified kind ; in his ears a golden earring. If the Brahmin 
meets a man of an inferior caste, he must turn back and purify 
himself. He has also to read in the Vedas, in various ways: 
each word separately, or doubling them alternately, or back- 
wards. He may not look to the sun when rising or setting, 
or when overcast by clouds or reflected in the water. He is 
forbidden to step over a rope to which a calf is fastened, or to 
go out when it rains. He may not look at his wife when she 
eats, sneezes, gapes, or is quietly seated. At the midday meal 
he may only have one garment on, in bathing never be quite 
naked. How minute these directions are may be especially 
judged of from the observances binding on the Brahmins 
in regard to satisfying the calls of nature. This is forbidden 
to them in a great thoroughfare, on ashes, on ploughed land, 
on a hill, a nest of white ants, on wood destined for fuel, in a 
ditch, walking or standing, on the bank of a river, etc. At such 
a time they may not look at the sun, at water, or at animals. 
By day they should keep their face generally directed to the 
north, but by night to the south; only in the shade are they 
allowed to turn to which quarter they like. It is forbidden 
to everyone who desires a long life to step on potsherds, cot- 
ton seeds, ashes, or sheaves of corn, or his urine. In the episode 
Nala, in the poem of Mahabharata, we have a story of a virgin 
who in her 21st year — the age in which the maidens themselves 
have a right to choose a husband — makes a selection from 
among her wooers. There are five of them; but the maiden 
remarks that four of them do not stand firmly on their feet, and 
thence infers correctly that they are Gods. She therefore 
chooses the fifth, who is a veritable man. But besides the four 
despised divinities there are two malevolent ones, whom her 
choice had not favored, and who on that account wish for re- 
venge. They therefore keep a strict watch on the husband 
of their beloved in every step and act of life, with the design 
of inflicting injury upon him if he commits a misdemeanor. 



The persecuted husband does nothing that can be brought 
against him, until at last he is so incautious as to step on his 
urine. The Genius has now an advantage over him ; he afflicts 
him with a passion for gambling, and so plunges him into the 

While, on the one hand, the Brahmins are subject to these 
strict limitations and rules, on the other hand their life is sacred ; 
it cannot answer for crimes of any kind ; and their property is 
equally secure from being attacked. The severest penalty 
which the ruler can inflict upon them amounts to nothing more 
than banishment. The English wished to introduce trial by 
jury into India — the jury to consist half of Europeans, half of 
Hindoos — and submitted to the natives, whose wishes on the 
subject were consulted, the powers with which the panel would 
be intrusted. The Hindoos were for making a number of ex- 
ceptions and limitations. They said, among other things, that 
they could not consent that a Brahmin should be condemned 
to death ; not to mention other objections, e.g. that looking at 
and examining a corpse was out of the question. Although in 
the case of a Warrior the rate of interest may be as high as 
three per cent., in that of a Vaisya four per cent., a Brahmin 
is never required to pay more than two per cent. The Brahmin 
possesses such a power, that Heaven's lightning would strike 
the King who ventured to lay hands on him or his property. 
For the meanest Brahmin is so far exalted above the. King, 
that he would be polluted by conversing with him, and would 
be dishonored by his daughters choosing a prince in marriage. 
In Manu's Code it is said : " If anyone presumes to teach a 
Brahmin his duty, the King must order that hot oil be poured 
into the ears and mouth of such an instructor. If one who is 
only once-born, loads one who is twice-born with reproaches, 
a red hot iron bar ten inches long shall be thrust into his 
mouth." On the other hand a Sudra is condemned to have a 
red hot ir^n thrust into him from behind if he rest himself in 
the chair ot a Brahmin, and to have his foot or his hand hewed 
off if he pushes against a Brahmin with hands or feet. It is even 
permitted to give false testimony, and to lie before a Court of 
Justice, if a Brahmin can be thereby freed from condemnation. 

As the Brahmins enjoy advantages over the other Castes, the 
latter in their turn have privileges according to precedence, 
over their inferiors. If a Sudra is defiled by contact with a 


Pariah, he has the right to knock him down on the spot. Hu- 
manity on the part of a higher Caste towards an inferior one 
is entirely forbidden, and a Brahmin would never think of 
assisting a member of another Caste, even when in danger. 
The other Castes deem it a great honor when a Brahmin cakes 
their daughters as his wives — a thing however, which is per- 
mitted him, as already stated, only when he has already taken 
one from his own Caste. Thence arises the freedom the Brah- 
mins enjoy in getting wives. At the great religious festivals 
they go among the people and choose those that please them 
best ; but they also repudiate them at pleasure. 

If a Brahmin or a member of any other Caste transgresses 
the above cited laws and precepts, he is himself excluded from 
his caste, and in order to be received back again, he must have 
a hook bored through the hips, and be swung repeatedly back- 
wards and forwards in the air. There are also other forms of 
restoration. A Rajah who thought himself injured by an Eng- 
lish Governor sent two Brahmins to England to detail his 
grievances. But the Hindoos are forbidden to cross the sea, 
and these envoys on their return were declared excommuni- 
cated from their caste, and in order to be restored to it, they 
had to be born again from a golden cow. The imposition was 
so far lightened, that only those parts of the cow out of which 
they had to creep were obliged to be golden ; the rest might 
consist of wood. These various usages and religious observan- 
ces to which every Caste is subject have occasioned great per- 
plexity to the English, especially in enlisting soldiers. At first 
these were taken from the Sudra-Caste, which is not bound to 
observe so many ceremonies ; but nothing could be done with 
them, they therefore betook themselves to the Cshatriya class. 
These however have an immense number of regulations to ob- 
serve — they may not eat meat, touch a dead body, drink out 
of a pool in which cattle or Europeans have drunk, not eat what 
others have cooked, etc. Each Hindoo assumes one definite 
occupation, and that only, so that one must have an infinity of 
servants ; — a Lieutenant has thirty, a Major sixty. Thus every 
Caste has its own duties ; the lower the Caste, the less it has to 
observe ; and as each individual has his position assigned by 
birth, beyond this fixed arrangement everything is governed 
bv caprice and force. In the Code of Manu punishments in- 
crease in proportion to the inferiority of Castes, and there is a 



distinction in other respects. If a man of a higher Caste brings 
an accusation against an inferior without proof, the former is 
not punished ; if the converse occurs, the punishment is very 
severe. Cases of theft are exceptional ; in this case the higher 
the Caste the heavier is the penalty. 

In respect to property the Brahmins have a great advantage, 
for they pay no taxes. The prince receives half the income from 
the lands of others ; the remainder has to suffice for the cost 
of cultivation and the support of the laborers. It is an ex- 
tremely important question, whether the cultivated land in In- 
dia is recognized as belonging to the cultivator, or belongs to a 
so-called manorial proprietor. The English themselves have 
had great difficulty in establishing a clear understanding about 
it. For when they conquered Bengal, it was of great importance 
to them, to determine the mode in which taxes were to be raised 
on property, and they had to ascertain whether these should be 
imposed on the tenant cultivators or the lord of the soil. They 
imposed the tribute on the latter ; but the result was that the 
proprietors acted in the most arbitrary manner: drove away 
the tenant cultivators, and declaring that such or such an 
amount of land was not under cultivation, gained an abatement 
of tribute. They then took back the expelled cultivators as day- 
laborers, at a low rate of wages, and had the land cultivated 
on their own behalf. The whole income belonging to every 
village is, as already stated, divided into two parts, of which one 
belongs to the Rajah, the other to the cultivators ; but propor- 
tionate shares are also received by the Provost of the place, the 
Judge, the Water-Surveyor, the Brahmin who superintends 
religious worship, the Astrologer (who is also a Brahmin, and 
announces the days of good and ill omen), the Smith, the Car- 
penter, the Potter, the Washerman, the Barber, the Physician, 
the Dancing Girls, the Musician, the Poet. This arrangement 
is fixed and immutable, and subject to no one's will. All political 
re\olutions, therefore, are matters of indifference to the com- 
mon Hindoo, for his lot is unchanged. 

The view given of the relation of castes leads directly to the 
subject of Religion. For the claims of caste are, as already 
remarked, not merely secular, bu' essentially religious, and the 
Brahmins in their exalted dignity are the very gods bodily 
present. In the laws of Manu it is said : " Let the King, even 
in extreme necessity, beware of exciting the Brahmins against 



him ; for they can destroy him with their power — they who 
create Fire, Sun, Moon, etc." They are servants neither of 
God nor of his People, but are God himself to the other Castes 
— a position of things which constitutes the perverted character 
of the Hindoo mind. The dreaming Unity of Spirit and nature, 
which involves a monstrous bewilderment in regard to all phe- 
nomena and relations, we have already recognized as the prin- 
ciple of the Hindoo Spirit. The Hindoo Mythology is there- 
fore only a wild extravagance of Fancy, in which nothing has 
a settled form ; which takes us abruptly from the Meanest to 
the Highest, from the most sublime to the most disgusting and 
trivial. Thus it is also difficult to discover what the Hindoos 
understand by Brahm. We are apt to take our conception of 
Supreme Divinity — the One — the Creator of Heaven and 
Earth — and apply it to the Indian Brahm. Brahma is dis- 
tinct from Brahm — the former constituting one personality in 
contrasted relation to Vishnu and Siva. Many therefore call the 
Supreme Existence who is over the first mentioned deity, Para- 
brahma. The English have taken a good deal of trouble to find 
out what Brahm properly is. Wilford has asserted that Hin- 
doo conceptions recognize two Heavens : the first, the earthly 
paradise, the second, Heaven in a spiritual sense. To attain 
them, two different modes of worship are supposed to be re- 
quired. The one involves external ceremonies, Idol-Worship ; 
the other requires that the Supreme Being should be honored 
in spirit. Sacrifices, purifications, pilgrimages are not needed 
in the latter. This authority states moreover that there are 
few Hindoos ready to pursue the second way> because they can- 
not understand in what the pleasure of the second heaven con- 
sists, and that if one asks a Hindoo whether he worships Idols, 
every one says " Yes ! " but to the question, " Do you worship 
the Supreme Being? " every one answers " No." If the further 
question is put, " What is the meaning of that practice of yours, 
that silent meditation which some of your learned men speak 
of? " they respond, " When I pray to the honor of one of the 
Gods, I sit down — the foot of either leg on the thigh of the 
other — look towards Heaven, and calmly elevate my thoughts 
with my hands folded in silence ; then I say, I am Brahm the 
Supreme Being. We are not conscious to ourselves of being 
Brahm, by reason of Maya (the delusion occasioned by the out- 
ward world). It is forbidden to pray to him, and to offer sac- 
Vol. 23 H — Classics 


rifices to him in his own nature; for this would be to adore 
ourselves. In every case therefore, it is only emanations of 
Brahm that we address." Translating these ideas then into 
our own process of thought, we should call Brahm the pure 
unity of thought in itself — God in the incomplexity of his ex- 
istence. No temples are consecrated to him, and he receives 
no worship. Similarly, in the Catholic religion, the churches 
are not dedicated to God, but to the saints. Other Englishmen, 
who have devoted themselves to investigating the conception 
of Brahm, have thought Brahm to be an unmeaning epithet, ap- 
plied to all gods : so that Vishnu says, " I am Brahm " ; and 
the Sun, the Air, the Seas are called Brahm. Brahm would on 
this supposition be substance in its simplicity, which by its 
very nature expands itself into the limitless variety of phenome- 
nal diversities. For this abstraction, this pure unity, is that 
which lies at the foundation of All — the root of all definite ex- 
istence. In the intellection of this unity, all objectivity falls 
away ; for the purely Abstract is intellection itself in its greatest 
vacuity. To attain this Death of Life during life itself — to con- 
stitute this abstraction — requires the disappearance of all moral 
activity and volition, and of all intellection too, as in the Re- 
ligion of Fo; and this is the object of the penances already 
spoken of. 

The complement to the abstraction Brahm must then be 
looked for in the concrete complex of things; for the prin- 
ciple of the Hindoo religion is the Manifestation of Diversity 
(in " Avatars "). These then, fall outside that abstract Unity 
of Thought, and as that which deviates from it, constitute the 
variety found in the world of sense, the variety of intellectual 
conceptions in an unreflected sensuous form. In this way the 
concrete complex of material things is isolated from Spirit, and 
presented in wild distraction, except as re-absorbed in the pure 
ideality of Brahm. The other deities are therefore things of 
sense: Mountains, Streams, Beasts, the Sun, the Moon, the 
Ganges. The next stage is the concentration of this wild varie- 
ty into substantial distinctions, and the comprehension of them 
as a series of divine persons. Vishnu, Siva, Mahadeva are thus 
distinguished from Brahma. In the embodiment Vishnu are 
presented those incarnations in which God has appeared as 
man, and which are always historical personages, who effected 
important changes and new epochs. The power of procreation 


is likewise a substantial embodiment; and in the excavations, 
grottos and pagodas of the Hindoos, the Lingam is always 
found as symbolizing the male, and the Lotus the female vis 

With this Duality — abstract unity on the one side and the ab- 
stract isolation of the world of sense on the other side — exactly 
corresponds the double form of Worship, in the relation of the 
human subjectivity to God. The one side of this duality of wor- 
ship consists in the abstraction of pure self-elevation — the ab- 
rogation of real self-consiousness ; a negativity which is conse- 
quently manifested, on the one hand, in the attainment of torpid 
unconsciousness — on the other hand in suicide and the extinc- 
tion of all that is worth calling life, by self-inflicted tortures. 
The other side of worship consists in a wild tumult of excess ; 
when all sense of individuality has vanished from consciousness 
by immersion in the merely natural ; with which individuality 
thus makes itself identical — destroying its consciousness of dis- 
tinction from Nature. In all the pagodas, therefore, prostitutes 
and dancing girls are kept, whom the Brahmins instruct most 
carefully in dancing, in beautiful postures and attractive gest- 
ures, and who have to comply with the wishes of all comers at 
a fixed price. Theological doctrine — relation of religion to 
morality — is here altogether out of the question. On the one 
hand Love — Heaven — in short everything spiritual — is con- 
ceived by the fancy of the Hindoo ; but on the other hand his 
conceptions have an actual sensuous embodiment, and he im- 
merses himself by a voluptuous intoxication in the merely 
natural. Objects of religious worship are thus either disgusting 
forms produced by art, or those presented by Nature. Every 
bird, every monkey, is a present god, an absolutely universal 
existence. The Hindoo is incapable of holding fast an object 
in his mind by means of rational predicates assigned to it, for 
this requires reflection. While a universal essence is wrongly 
transmuted into sensuous objectivity, the latter is also driven 
from its definite character into universality — a process whereby 
it loses its footing and is expanded to indefiniteness. 

If we proceed to ask how far their religion exhibits the Moral- 
ity of the Hindoos, the answer must be that the former is as dis- 
tinct from the latter, as Brahm from the concrete existence 
of which he is the essence. To us, religion is the knowledge of 
that Being who is emphatically our Being, and therefore the 


substance of our knowledge and volition ; the proper office of 
which latter is to be the mirror of this fundamental substance. 
But that requires this (Highest) Being to be in se a personality, 
pursuing divine aims, such as can become the purport of human 
action. Such an idea of a relation of the Being of God as con- 
stituting the universal basis or substance of human action — 
such a morality cannot be found among the Hindoos ; for they 
have not the Spiritual as the import of their consciousness. On 
the one hand their virtue consists in the abstraction from all 
activity — the condition they call " Brahm." On the other hand 
every action with them is a prescribed external usage ; not 
free activity, the result of inward personality. Thus the moral 
condition of the Hindoos (as already observed) shows itself 
most abandoned. In this all Englishmen agfee. Our judgment 
of the morality of the Hindoos is apt to be warped by represen- 
tations of their mildness, tenderness, beautiful and sentimental 
fancy. But we must reflect that in nations utterly corrupt, there 
are sides of character which may be called tender and noble. 
We have Chinese poems in which the tenderest relations of 
love are depicted ; in which delineations of deep emotion, hu- 
mility, modesty, propriety are to be found ; and which may be 
compared with the best that European literature contains. The 
same characteristics meet us in many Hindoo poems ; but recti- 
tude, morality, freedom of soul, consciousness of individual 
right are quite another thing. The annihilating of spiritual and 
physical existence has nothing concrete in it ; and absorption 
in the abstractly Universal has no connection with the real. 
Deceit and cunning are the fundamental characteristics of the 
Hindoo. Cheating, stealing, robbing, murdering are with him 
habitual. Humbly crouching and abject before a victor and 
lord, he is recklessly barbarous to the vanquished and subject. 
Characteristic of the Hindoo's humanity is the fact that he kills 
no brute animal, founds and supports rich hospitals for brutes, 
especially for old cows and monkeys — but that through the 
whole land, no single institution can be found for human be- 
ings who are diseased or infirm from age. The Hindoos will 
not tread upon ants, but they are perfectly indifferent when poor 
wanderers pine away with hunger. The Brahmins are espe- 
cially immoral. According to English reports, they do nothing 
but eat and sleep. In what is not forbidden them by the rules 
of their order they follow natural impulses entirely. When they 



take any part in public life they show themselves avaricious, de- 
ceitful, voluptuous. With those whom they have reason to fear, 
they are humble enough ; for which they avenge themselves on 
their dependents. " I do not know an honest man among 
them," says an English authority. Children have no respect 
for their parents : sons maltreat their mothers. 

It would lead us too far to give a detailed notice of Hindoo 
Art and Science. But we may make the general remark, that a 
more accurate acquaintance with its real value has not a little 
diminished the widely bruited fame of Indian Wisdom. Ac- 
cording to the Hindoo principle of pure self-renouncing Ideal- 
ity, and that (phenomenal) variety, which goes to the opposite 
extreme of sensuousness, it is evident that nothing but abstract 
thought and imagination can be developed. Thus, e.g., their 
grammar has advanced to a high degree of consistent regular- 
ity ; but when substantial matter in sciences and works of art 
is in question, it is useless to look for it here. When the Eng- 
lish had become masters of the country, the work of restoring 
to light the records of Indian culture was commenced, and 
William Jones first disinterred the poems of the Golden Age. 
The English exhibited plays at Calcutta : this led to a represen- 
tation of dramas on the part of the Brahmins, e.g. the Sacontala 
of Calidasa, etc. In the enthusiasm pf discovery the Hindoo 
culture was very highly rated ; and as, when new beauties are 
discovered, the old ones are commonly looked down upon with 
contempt, Hindoo poetry and philosophy were extolled as far 
superior to the Greek. For our purpose the most important 
documents are the ancient and canonical books of the Hin- 
doos, especially the Vedas. They comprise many divisions, of 
which the fourth is of more recent origin. They consist partly 
of religious prayers, partly of precepts to be observed. Some 
manuscripts of these Vedas have come to Europe, though in 
a complete form they are exceedingly rare. The writing is on 
palm leaves, scratched in with a needle. The Vedas are very 
difficult to understand, since they date from the most remote 
antiquity, and the language is a much older Sanscrit. Cole- 
brooke has indeed translated a part, but this itself is perhaps 
taken from a commentary, of which there are very many.* Two 

* Only recently has Professor Rosen, Specimen, ed. Fr. Rosen. Lond. 1830." 

residing in London, gone thoroughly (More recently, since Rosen's death, the 

into the matter and given a specimen of whole Rig- Veda, London, 1839, has been 

the text with a translation, Rig-Vedae published from MSS. left by him.) 


great epic poems, Ramayana and Mahabharata, have also 
reached Europe. Three quarto volumes of the former have 
been printed, the second volume is extremely rare.f Besides 
these works, the Puranas must be particularly noticed. The 
Puranas contain the history of a god or of a temple. They are 
entirely fanciful. Another Hindoo classical book is the Code 
of Manu. This Hindoo lawgiver has been compared with the 
Cretan Minos — a name which also occurs among the Egyp- 
tians ; and certainly this extensive occurrence of the same name 
is noteworthy and cannot be ascribed to chance. Manu's code 
of morals, (published at Calcutta with an English translation 
by Sir W. Jones) forms the basis of Hindoo legislation. It be- 
gins with a Theogony, which is not only entirely different from 
the mythological conceptions of other peoples (as might be ex- 
pected), but also deviates essentially from the Hindoo traditions 
themselves. For in these also there are only some leading feat- 
ures that pervade the whole. In other respects everything is 
abandoned to chance, caprice and fancy ; the result of which is 
that the most multiform traditions, shapes and names, appear 
in never ending procession. The time when Manu's code was 
composed, is also entirely unknown and undetermined. The 
traditions reach beyond twenty-three centuries before the birth 
of Christ : a dynasty of the Children of the Sun is mentioned, on 
which followed one of the Children of the Moon. Thus much, 
however, is certain, that the code in question is of high an- 
tiquity ; and an acquaintance with it is of the greatest impor- 
tance to the English, as their knowledge of Hindoo Law is de- 
rived from it. 

After pointing out the Hindoo principle in the distinctions 
of caste, in religion and literature, we must also mention the 
mode and form of their political existence — the polity of the 
Hindoo State. — A State is a realization of Spirit, such that in 
it the self-conscious being of Spirit — the freedom of the Will — 
is realized as Law. Such an institution then, necessarily pre- 
supposes the consciousness of free will. In the Chinese State 
the moral will of the Emperor is the law : but so that subjective, 
inward freedom is thereby repressed, and the Law of Freedom 
governs individuals only as from without. In India the pri- 

t " A. W. v. Schlegel has published have been introduced to public notice by 
the first and second Volume; the most F. Bopp, and a complete Edition has ap- 
important Episodes of the Mahabharata peared at Calcutta. —German Editor. 


mary aspect of subjectivity — viz., that of the imagination — pre- 
sents a union of the Natural and Spiritual, in which Nature 
on the one hand, does not present itself as a world embodying 
Reason, nor the Spiritual on the other hand, as consciousness 
in contrast with Nature. Here the antithesis in the (above- 
stated) principle is wanting. Freedom both as abstract will and 
as subjective freedom is absent. The proper basis of the State, 
the principle of freedom is altogether absent: there cannot 
therefore be any State in the true sense of the term. This is the 
first point to be observed : if China may be regarded as nothing 
else but a State, Hindoo political existence presents us with a 
people, but no State. Secondly, while we found a moral despot- 
ism in China, whatever may be called a relic of political life 
in India, is a despotism without a principle, without any rule of 
morality and religion: for morality and religion (as far as the 
latter has a reference to human action) have as their indis- 
pensable condition and basis the freedom of the Will. In India, 
therefore, the most arbitrary, wicked, degrading despotism has 
its full swing. China, Persia, Turkey — in fact Asia generally, 
is the scene of despotism, and, in a bad sense, of tyranny ; but 
it is regarded as contrary to the due order of things, and is 
disapproved by religion and the moral consciousness of indi- 
viduals. In those countries, tyranny rouses men to resentment ; 
they detest it and groan under it as a burden. To them it is 
an accident and an irregularity, not a necessity : it ought not to 
exist. But in India it is normal : for here there is no sense of 
personal independence with which a state of despotism could 
be compared, and which would raise revolt in the soul ; nothing 
approaching even a resentful protest against it, is left, except 
the corporeal smart, and the pain of being deprived of absolute 
necessaries and of pleasure. 

In the case of such a people, therefore, that which we call 
in its double sense, History, is not to be looked for ; and here 
the distinction between China and India is most clearly and 
strongly manifest. The Chinese possess a most minute history 
of their country, and it has been already remarked what ar- 
rangements are made in China for having everything accu- 
rately noted down in their annals. The contrary is the case in 
India. Though the recent discoveries of the treasures of 
Indian Literature have shown us what a reputation the Hin- 
doos have acquired in Geometry, Astronomy, and Algebra — 


that they have made great advances in Philosophy, and that 
among them, Grammar has been so far cultivated that no lan- 
guage can be regarded as more fully developed than the 
Sanscrit — we find the department of History altogether neg- 
lected, or rather non-existent. For History requires Under- 
standing — the power of looking at an object in an independent 
objective light, and comprehending it in its rational connec- 
tion with other objects. Those peoples therefore are alone 
capable of History, and of prose generally, who have arrived 
at that period of development (and can make that their start- 
ing point) at which individuals comprehend their own exist- 
ence as independent, i.e. possess self-consciousness. 

The Chinese are to be rated at what they have made of them- 
selves, looking at them in the entirety of their State. While 
they have thus attained an existence independent of Nature, 
they can also regard objects as distinct from themselves — as 
they are actually presented — in a definite form and in their real 
connection. The Hindoos on the contrary are by birth given 
over to an unyielding destiny, while at the same time their 
Spirit is exalted to Ideality; so that their minds exhibit the 
contradictory processes of a dissolution of fixed rational and 
definite conceptions in their Ideality, and on the other side, a 
degradation of this ideality to a multiformity of sensuous ob- 
jects. This makes them incapable of writing History. All 
that happens is dissipated in their minds into confused dreams. 
What we call historical truth and veracity — intelligent, thought- 
ful comprehension of events, and fidelity in representing them 
— nothing of this sort can be looked for among the Hindoos. 
We may explain this deficiency partly from that excitement and 
debility of the nerves, which prevent them from retaining an 
object in their minds, and firmly comprehending it, for in their 
mode of apprehension, a sensitive and imaginative temperament 
changes it into a feverish dream ; — partly from the fact, that 
veracity is the direct contrary to their nature. They even lie 
knowingly and designedly where misapprehension is out of the 
question. As the Hindoo Spirit is a state of dreaming and 
mental transiency — a self-oblivious dissolution — objects also 
dissolve for it into unreal images and indefinitude. This feature 
is absolutely characteristic ; and this alone would furnish us 
with a clear idea of the Spirit of the Hindoos, from which all 
that has been said might be deduced. 


But History is always of great importance for a people; 
since by means of that it becomes conscious of the path of 
development taken by its own Spirit, which expresses itself in 
Laws, Manners, Customs, and Deeds. Laws, comprising mor- 
als and judicial institutions, are by nature the permanent ele- 
ment in a people's existence. But History presents a people 
with their own image in a condition which thereby becomes ob- 
jective to them. Without History their existence in time is 
blindly self-involved — the recurring play of arbitrary volition in 
manifold forms. History fixes and imparts consistency to this 
fortuitous current — gives it the form of Universality, and by so 
doing posits a directive and restrictive rule for it. It is an 
essential instrument in developing and determining the Con- 
stitution — that is, a rational political condition ; for it is the 
empirical method of producing the Universal, inasmuch as it 
sets up a permanent object for the conceptive powers. — It is be- 
cause the Hindoos have no History in the form of annals (his- 
toria) that they have no History in the form of transactions (res 
gestae) ; that is, no growth expanding into a veritable political 

Periods of time are mentioned in the Hindoo Writings, and 
large numbers which have often an astronomical meaning, but 
which have still oftener a quite arbitrary origin. Thus it is 
related of certain Kings that they had reigned 70,000 years, 
or more. Brahma, the first figure in the Cosmogony, and self- 
produced, is said to have lived 20,000 years, etc. Innumerable 
names of Kings are cited — among them the incarnations of 
Vishnu. It would be ridiculous to regard passages of this kind 
as anything historical. In their poems Kings are often talked of: 
these may have been historical personages, but they completely 
vanish in fable ; e.g. they retire from the world, and then ap- 
pear again, after they have passed ten thousand years in soli- 
tude. The numbers in question, therefore, have not the value 
and rational meaning which we attach to them. 

Consequently the oldest and most reliable sources of Indian 
History are the notices of Greek Authors, after Alexander 
the Great had opened the way to India. From them we learn 
that their institutions were the same at that early period as they 
are now: Santaracottus (Chandragupta) is marked out as a 
distinguished ruler in the northern part of India, to which the 
Bactrian kingdom extended. The Mahometan historians sup- 


ply another source of information ; for the Mahometans began 
their invasions as early as the tenth century. A Turkish slave 
was the ancestor of the Ghiznian race. His son Mahmoud 
made an inroad into Hindostan and conquered almost the whole 
country. He fixed his royal residence west of Cabul, and at 
his court lived the poet Ferdusi. The Ghiznian dynasty was 
soon entirely exterminated by the sweeping attacks of the 
Afghans and Moguls. In later times nearly the whole of India 
has been subjected to the Europeans. What therefore is known 
of Indian history, has for the most part been communicated 
through foreign channels: the native literature gives only in- 
distinct data. Europeans assure us of the impossibility of wad- 
ing through the morasses of Indian statements. More definite 
information may be obtained from inscriptions and documents, 
especially from the deeds of gifts of land to pagodas and divin- 
ities; but this kind of evidence supplies names only. Another 
source of information is the astronomical literature, which is 
of high antiquity Colebrooke thoroughly studied these writ- 
ings; though it is very difficult to procure manuscripts, since 
the Brahmins keep them very close ; they are moreover disfig- 
ured by the grossest interpolations. It is found that the state- 
ments with regard to constellations are often contradictory, and 
that the Brahmins interpolate these ancient works with events 
belonging to their own time. The Hindoos do indeed possess 
lists and enumerations of their Kings, but these also are of the 
most capricious character; for we often find twenty Kings 
more in one list than in another; and should these lists even 
be correct, they could not constitute a history. The Brahmins 
have no conscience in respect to truth. Captain Wilford had 
procured manuscripts from all quarters with great trouble and 
expense ; he assembled a considerable number of Brahmins, 
and commissioned them to make extracts from these works, and 
to institute inquiries respecting certain remarkable events — 
about Adam and Eve, the Deluge, etc. The Brahmins, to please 
their employer, produced statements of the kind required ; but 
there was nothing of the sort in the manuscripts. Wilford 
wrote many treatises on the subject, till at last he detected the 
deception, and saw that he had labored in vain. The Hindoos 
have, it is true, a fixed Era : they reckon from Vicramaditya, at 
whose splendid court lived Calidasa, the author of the Sacon- 
tala. The most illustrious poets flourished about the same 


time. " There were nine pearls at the court of Vicramaditya," 
say the Brahmins : but we cannot discover the date of this 
brilliant epoch. From various statements, the year 149 1 B.C. 
has been contended for; others adopt the year 50 B.C., and this 
is the commonly received opinion. Bentley's researches at 
length placed Vicramaditya in the twelfth century B.C. But 
still more recently it has been discovered that there were five, 
or even eight or nine kings of that name in India ; so that on 
this point also we are thrown back into utter uncertainty. 

When the Europeans became acquainted with India, they 
found a multitude of petty Kingdoms, at whose head were 
Mahometan and Indian princes. There was an order of things 
very nearly approaching feudal organization; and the King- 
doms in question were divided into districts, having as gov- 
ernors Mahometans, or people of the Warrior Caste of Hin- 
doos. The business of these governors consisted in collecting 
taxes and carrying on wars ; and they thus formed a kind of 
aristocracy, the Prince's Council of State. But only as far as 
their princes are feared and excite fear, have they any power ; 
and no obedience is rendered to them but by force. As long 
as the prince does not want money, he has troops ; and neigh- 
boring princes, if they are inferior to him in force, are often 
obliged to pay taxes, but which are yielded only on compulsion. 
The whole state of things, therefore, is not that of repose, but 
of continual struggle; while moreover nothing is developed 
or furthered. It is the struggle of an energetic will on the part 
of this or that prince against a feebler one; the history of 
reigning dynasties, but not of peoples ; a series of perpetually 
varying intrigues and revolts — not indeed of subjects against 
their rulers, but of a prince's son, for instance, against his 
father; of brothers, uncles and nephews in contest with each 
other ; and of functionaries against their master. It might be 
believed that, though the Europeans found such a state of 
things, this was the result of the dissolution of earlier superior 
organizations. It might, for instance, be supposed that the 
period of the Mogul supremacy was of one of prosperity and 
splendor, and of a political condition in which India was not 
distracted religiously and politically by foreign conquerors. 
But the historical traces and lineaments that accidentally pre- 
sent themselves in poetical descriptions and legends, bearing 
upon the period in question, always point to the same divided 


condition — the result of war and of the instability of political 
relations; while contrary representations may be easily recog- 
nized as a dream, a mere fancy. This state of things is the 
natural result of that conception of Hindoo life which has been 
exhibited, and the conditions which it necessitates. The wars 
of the sects of the Brahmins and Buddhists, of the devotees of 
Vishnu and of Siva, also contributed their quota to this con- 
fusion. — There is indeed, a common character pervading the 
whole of India ; but its several states present at the same time 
the greatest variety ; so that in one Indian State we meet with 
the greatest effeminacy — in another, on the contrary, we find 
prodigious vigor and savage barbarity. 

If then, in conclusion, we once more take a general view of 
the comparative condition of India and China, we shall see 
that China was characterized by a thoroughly unimaginative 
Understanding; a prosaic life amid firm and definite reality: 
while in the Indian world there is, so to speak, no object that 
can be regarded as real, and firmly defined — none that was not 
at its first apprehension perverted by the imagination to the very 
opposite of what it presents to an intelligent consciousness. In 
China it is the Moral which constitutes the substance of the 
laws, and which is embodied in external strictly determinate 
relations; while over all hovers the patriarchal providence of 
the Emperor, who like a Father, cares impartially for the in- 
terest of his subjects. Among the Hindoos, on the contrary — 
instead of this Unity — Diversity is the fundamental character- 
istic. Religion, War, Handicraft, Trade, yes, even the most 
trivial occupations are parcelled out with rigid separation — 
constituting as they do the import of the one will which they 
involve, and whose various requirements they exhaust. With 
this is bound up a monstrous, irrational imagination, which at- 
taches the moral value and character of men to an infinity of 
outward actions as empty in point of intellect as of feeling ; sets 
aside all respect for the welfare of man, and even makes a duty 
of the cruellest and severest contravention of it. Those distinc- 
tions being rigidly maintained, nothing remains for the one 
universal will of the State but pure caprice, against whose 
omnipotence only the fixed caste-distinctions avail for protec- 
tion. The Chinese in their prosaic rationality, reverence as the 
Highest, only the abslract supreme lord; and they exhibit a 
contemptibly superstitious respect for the fixed and definite- 


Among the Hindoos there is no such superstition so far as it 
presents an antithesis to Understanding ; rather their whole life 
and ideas are one unbroken superstition, because among them 
all is revery and consequent enslavement. Annihilation — the 
abandonment of all reason, morality and subjectivity — can only 
come to a positive feeling and consciousness of itself, by extrav- 
agating in a boundlessly wild imagination; in which, like a 
desolate spirit, it finds no rest, no settled composure, though it 
can content itself in no other way ; as a man who is quite re- 
duced in body and spirit finds his existence altogether stupid 
and intolerable, and is driven to the creation of a dream-world 
and a delirious bliss in Opium. 

Section II. — (Continued).— India— Buddhism * 

It is time to quit the Dream- State characterizing the Hindoo 
Spirit revelling in the most extravagant maze through all nat- 
ural and spiritual forms ; comprising at the same time the coars- 
est sensuality and anticipations of the profoundest thought, 
and on that very account — as far as free and rational reality is 
concerned — sunk in the most self-abandoned, helpless slavery; 
— a slavery, in which the abstract forms into which concrete 
human life is divided, have become stereotyped, and human 
rights and culture have been made absolutely dependent upon 
these distinctions. In contrast with this inebriate Dream-life, 
which in the sphere of reality is bound fast in chains, we have 
the unconstrained Dream-life ; which on the one hand is ruder 
than the former — as not having advanced so far as to make 
this distinction of modes of life — but for the same reason, has 
not sunk into the slavery which this entails. It keeps itself more 
free, more independently firm in itself: its world of ideas is 
consequently compressed into simpler conceptions. 

The Spirit of the Phase just indicated, is involved in the 
same fundamental principle as that assigned to Hindoo con- 
ceptions: but it is more concentrated in itself; its religion is 
^simpler, and the accompanying political condition more calm 
and settled. This phase comprehends peoples and countries 
of the most varied complexion. We regard it as embracing 

* As in Hegel's original plan and in agrees better with recent investigations, 

the first lecture the transition from In- its detachment from the place which it 

dian Brahminism to Buddhism occupies previously occupied and mention here 

the place assigned it here, and as this will appear sufficiently justified. — Ed. 
position of the chapter on Buddhism 


Ceylon, Farther India with the Burman Empire, Siam, Anam— « 
north of that Thibet, and further on the Chinese Upland with 
its various populations of Mongols and Tartars. We shall not 
examine the special individualities of these peoples, but merely 
characterize their Religion, which constitutes the most interest- 
ing side of their existence The Religion of these peoples is 
Buddhism, which is the most widely extended religion on our 
globe. In China Buddha is reverenced as Fo; in Ceylon as 
Gautama; in Thibet and among the Mongols this religion has 
assumed the phase of Lamaism. In China — where the religion 
of Fo early received a great extension, and introduced a mo- 
nastic life — it occupies the position of an integrant element of 
the Chinese principle. As the Substantial form of Spirit which 
characterizes China, develops itself only to a unity of secular 
national life, which degrades individuals to a position of con- 
stant dependence, religion also remains in a state of dependence. 
The element of freedom is wanting to it; for its object is the 
principle of Nature in general — Heaven — Universal Matter. 
But the (compensating) truth of this alienated form of Spirit 
(Nature occupying the place of the Absolute Spirit) is ideal 
Unity; the elevation above the limitation of Nature and of 
existence at large ; — the return of consciousness into the soul. 
This element, which is contained in Buddhism, has made its 
way in China, to that extent to which the Chinese have become 
aware of the unspirituality of their condition, and the limitation 
that hampers their consciousness. — In this religion — which may 
be generally described as the religion of self-involvement (un- 
developed Unity)* — the elevation of that unspiritual condition 
to subjectivity, takes place in two ways; one of which is of 
a negative, the other of an affirmative kind. 

The negative form of this elevation is the concentration of 
Spirit to the Infinite, and must first present itself under theo- 
logical conditions. It is contained in the fundamental dogma, 
that Nothingness is the principle of all things — that all pro- 
ceeded from and returns to Nothingness. The various forms 
found in the World are only modifications of procession 
[thence]. If an analysis of these various forms were attempted, 
they would lose their quality ; for in themselves all things are 
one and the same inseparable essence, and this essence is Noth- 

* Compare Hegel's " Vorlesungen fiber die Philosophic der Religion," 2d Edi- 
tion, Pt. I. p. 384. 


ingness. The connection of this with the Metempsychosis can 
be thus explained : All (that we see) is but a change of Form. 
The inherent infinity of Spirit — infinite concrete self-depend- 
ence — is entirely separate from this Universe of phenomena. 
Abstract Nothingness is properly that which lies beyond Finite 
Existence — what we may call the Supreme Being. This real 
principle of the Universe is, it is said, in eternal repose, and in 
itself unchangeable. Its essence consists in the absence of 
activity and volition. For Nothingness is abstract Unity with 
itself. To obtain happiness, therefore, man must seek to assim- 
ilate himself to this principle by continual victories over him- 
self ; and for the sake of this, do nothing, wish nothing, desire 
nothing. In this condition of happiness, therefore, Vice or 
Virtue is out of the question ; for the true blessedness is Union 
with Nothingness. The more man frees himself from all spe- 
ciality of existence, the nearer does he approach perfection; 
and in the annihilation of all activity — in pure passivity — he 
attains complete resemblance to Fo. The abstract Unity in 
question is not a mere Futurity — a Spiritual sphere existing 
beyond our own ; it has to do with the present ; it is truth for 
man [as he is], and ought to be realized in him. In Ceylon 
and the Burman Empire — where this Buddhistic Faith has its 
roots — there prevails an idea, that man can attain by medita- 
tion, to exemption from sickness, old age and death. 

But while this is the negative form of the elevation of Spirit 
from immersion in the Objective to a subjective realization of 
itself, this Religion also advances to the consciousness of an 
affirmative form. Spirit is the Absolute. Yet in comprehend- 
ing Spirit it is a point of essential importance in what determi- 
nate form Spirit is conceived. When we speak of Spirit as 
universal, we know that for us it exists only in an inward con- 
ception; but to attain this point of view — to appreciate Spirit 
in the pure subjectivity of Thought and conception — is the re- 
sult of a longer process of culture. At that point in history 
at which we have now arrived, the form of Spirit is not ad- 
vanced beyond Immediateness (the idea of it is not yet refined 
by reflection and abstraction). God is conceived in an imme- 
diate, unreflected form; not in the form of Thought — objec- 
tively. But this immediate Form is that of humanity. The 
Sun, the Stars do not come up to the idea of Spirit ; but Man 
seems to realize it; and he, as Buddha, Gautama, Fo — in the 



form of a departed teacher, and in the living form of the Grand 
Lama — receives divine worship. The Abstract Understanding 
generally objects to this idea of a Godman ; alleging as a defect 
that the form here assigned to Spirit is an immediate [unre- 
flecte>., unrefined] one — that in fact it is none other than Man 
in the concrete. Here the character of a whole people is bound 
up with the theological view just indicated. The Mongols — 
a race extending through the whole of central Asia as far as 
Siberia, where they are subject to the Russians — worship the 
Lama; and with this form of worship a simple political con- 
dition, a patriarchal life is closely united ; for they are properly 
a Nomad people, and only occasionally are commotions excited 
among them, when they seem to be beside themselves, and 
eruptions and inundations of vast hordes are occasioned. Of 
the Lamas there are three : the best known is the Dalai-Lama, 
who has his seat at Lassa in the kingdom of Thibet. A second 
is the Teshoo-Lama, who under the title of Bantshen Rinbot- 
shee resides at Teshoo-Lomboo ; there is also a third in South- 
ern Siberia. The first two Lamas preside over two distinct 
sects, of which the priests of one wear yellow caps, those of the 
other, red. The wearers of the yellow caps — at whose head is 
the Dalai-Lama, and among whose adherents is the Emperor 
of China — have introduced celibacy among the priests, while 
the red sect allow their marriage. The English have become 
considerably acquainted with the Teshoo-Lama and have given 
us descriptions of him. 

The general form which the spirit of the Lamaistic develop- 
ment of Buddhism assumes, is that of a living human being; 
while in the original Buddhism it is a deceased person. The 
two hold in common the relationship to a man. The idea of a 
man being worshipped as God — especially a living man — has 
in it something paradoxical and revolting; but the following 
considerations must be examined before we pronounce judg- 
ment respecting it. The conception of Spirit involves its being 
regarded as inherently, intrinsically, universal. This condition 
must be particularly observed, and it must be discovered how 
in the systems adopted by various peoples this universality is 
kept in view. It is not the individuality of the subject that 
is revered, but that which is universal in him; and which 
among the Thibetans, Hindoos, and Asiatics generally, is re- 
garded as the essence pervading all things. This substantial 


Unity of Spirit is realized in the Lama, who is nothing but the 
form in which Spirit manifests itself; and who does not hold 
this Spiritual Essence as his peculiar property, but is regarded 
as partaking in it only in order to exhibit it to others, that 
they may attain a conception of Spirituality and be led to piety 
and blessedness. The Lama's personality as such — his partic- 
ular individuality — is therefore subordinate to that substantial 
essence which it embodies. The second point which consti- 
tutes an essential feature in the conception of the Lama is the 
disconnection from Nature. The Imperial dignity of China 
involved [as we saw] a supremacy over the powers of Nature ; 
while here spiritual power is directly separated from the vis 
Nature?. The idea never crosses the minds of the Lama-wor- 
shippers to desire of the Lama to show himself Lord of Nature 
■ — to exercise magical and miraculous power; for from the 
being they call God, they look only for spiritual activity and the 
bestowal of spiritual benefits. Buddha has moreover the ex- 
press names " Saviour of Souls " — " Sea of Virtue " — " the 
Great Teacher." Those who have become acquainted with the 
Teshoo-Lama depict him as a most excellent person, of the 
calmest temper and most devoted to meditation. Thus also 
do the Lama-worshippers regard him. They see in him a man 
constantly occupied with religion, and who when he directs his 
attention to what is human, does so only to impart consolation 
and encouragement by his blessing, and by the exercise of 
mercy and the bestowal of forgiveness. These Lamas lead a 
thoroughly isolated life and have a feminine rather than mas- 
culine training. Early torn from the arms of his parents the 
Lama is generally a well-formed and beautiful child. He is 
brought up amid perfect quiet and solitude, in a kind of 
prison : he is well catered for, and remains without exercise or 
childish play, so that it is not surprising that a feminine sus- 
ceptible tendency prevails in his character. The Grand Lamas 
have under them inferior Lamas as presidents of the great 
fraternities. In Thibet every father who has four sons is 
obliged to dedicate one to a conventual life. The Mongols, 
who are especially devoted to Lamaism — this modification of 
Buddhism — have great respect for all that possesses life. They 
live chiefly on vegetables, and revolt from killing any animal, 
even a louse. This worship of the Lamas has supplanted Sha- 
manism, that is, the religion of Sorcery. The Shamans — 


priests of this religion — intoxicate themselves with strong 
drinks and dancing, and while in this state perform their in- 
cantations, fall exhausted on the ground, and utter words which 
pass for oracular. Since Buddhism and Lamaism have taken 
the place of the Shaman Religion, the life of the Mongols has 
been simple, prescriptive and patriarchal. Where they take any 
part in History, we find them occasioning impulses that have 
only been the groundwork of historical development. There 
is therefore little to be said about the political administration 
of the Lamas. A Vizier has charge of the secular dominion 
and reports everything to the Lama : the government is simple 
and lenient ; and the veneration which the Mongols pay to the 
Lama, expresses itself chiefly in their asking counsel of him in 
political affairs.. 



ASIA separates itself into two parts — Hither and Farther 
Asia; which are essentially different from each other. 
While the Chinese and Hindoos — the two great nations 
of Farther Asia, already considered — belong to the strictly Asi- 
atic, namely the Mongolian Race, and consequently possess a 
quite peculiar character, discrepant from ours ; the nations of 
Hither Asia belong to the Caucasian, i.e. the European Stock. 
They are related to the West, while the Farther-Asiatic peoples 
are perfectly isolated. The European who goes from Persia to 
India, observes, therefore, a prodigious contrast. Whereas 
in the former country he finds himself still somewhat at home, 
and meets with European dispositions, human virtues and hu- 
man passions — as soon as he crosses the Indus (i.e. in the latter 
region), he encounters the most repellent characteristics, per- 
vading every single feature of society. 

With the Persian Empire we first enter on continuous His- 
tory. The Persians are the first Historical People; Persia 
was the first Empire that passed away. While China and 
India remain stationary, and perpetuate a natural vegetative 
existence even to the present time, this land has been subject 
to those developments and revolutions, which alone manifest 
a historical condition. The Chinese and the Indian Empire 
assert a place in the historical series only on their own account 
and for us (not for neighbors and successors). But here in 
Persia first arises that light which shines itself, and illuminates 
what is around ; for Zoroaster's " Light " belongs to the World 
of Consciousness — to Spirit as a relation to something distinct 
from itself. We see in the Persian World a pure exalted 
Unity, as the essence which leaves the special existences that 
inhere in it, free; — as the Light, which only manifests what 
bodies are in themselves; — a Unity which governs individuals 
only to excite them to become powerful for themselves — to de- 



velop and assert their individuality. Light makes no distinc- 
tions : the Sun shines on the righteous and the unrighteous, 
on high and low, and confers on all the same benefit and pros- 
perity. Light is vitalizing only in so far as it is brought to 
bear on something distinct from itself, operating upon and 
developing that. It holds a position of antithesis to Darkness, 
and this antithetical relation opens out to us the principle of 
activity and life. The principle of development begins with 
the history of Persia. This therefore constitutes strictly the 
beginning of World-History; for the grand interest of Spirit 
in History, is to attain an unlimited immanence of subjectivity 
— by an absolute antithesis to attain complete harmony.* 

Thus the transition which we have to make, is only in the 
sphere of the Idea, not in the external historical connection. 
The principle of this transition is that the Universal Essence, 
which we recognized in Brahm, now becomes perceptible to 
consciousness — becomes an object and acquires a positive im- 
port for man. Brahm is not worshipped by the Hindoos: he 
is nothing more than a condition of the Individual, a religious 
feeling, a non-objective existence — a relation, which for con- 
crete vitality is that of annihilation. But in becoming objec- 
tive, this Universal Essence acquires a positive nature: man 
becomes free, and thus occupies a position face to face as it 
were with the Highest Being, the latter being made objective 
for him. This form of Universality we see exhibited in Persia, 
involving a separation of man from the Universal essence; 
while at the same time the individual recognizes himself as 
identical with [a partaker in], that essence. In the Chinese 
and Indian principle, this distinction was not made. We found 
only a unit of the Spiritual and the Natural. But Spirit still 
involved in Nature has to solve the problem of freeing itself 
from the latter. Rights and Duties in India are intimately 
connected with special classes, and are therefore only peculiar- 
ities attaching to man by the arrangement of Nature. In China 
this unity presents itself under the conditions of paternal gov- 
ernment. Man is not free there ; he possesses no moral ele- 
ment, since he is identical with the external command [obedi- 

* In earlier stages of progress, the of this alien form of validity — recognizes 

mandates of Spirit (social and political these mandates as its own, and adopts 

law), are given as by a power alien to them freely as a law of liberty. It then 

itself— as by some compulsion of mere stands in clear opposition to its logical 

Nature. Gradually it sees the untruth contrary— Nature.— Ed. 


ence is purely natural, as in the filial relation — not the result 
of reflection and principle]. In the Persian principle, Unity 
first elevates itself to the distinction from the merely natural; 
we have the negation of that unreflecting relation which al- 
lowed no exercise of mind to intervene between the mandate 
and its adoption by the will. In the Persian principle this 
unity is manifested as Light, which in this case is not simply 
light as such, the most universal physical element, but at the 
same time also spiritual purity — the Good. Speciality — the in' 
volvement with limited Nature — is consequently abolished. 
Light, in a physical and spiritual sense, imports, therefore, ele- 
vation — freedom from the merely natural. Man sustains a 
relation to Light — to the Abstract Good — as to something ob- 
jective, which is acknowledged, reverenced, and evoked to ac- 
tivity by his Will. If we look back once more — and we cannot 
do so too frequently — on the phases which we have traversed 
in arriving at this point, we perceive in China the totality of 
a moral Whole, but excluding subjectivity; — this totality di- 
vided into members, but without independence in its various 
portions. We found only an external arrangement of this 
political Unity. In India, on the contrary, distinctions made 
themselves prominent ; but the principle of separation was un- 
spiritual. We found incipient subjectivity, but hampered with 
the condition, that the separation in question is insurmount- 
able; and that Spirit remains involved in the limitations of 
Nature, and is therefore a self-contradiction. Above this purity 
of Castes is that purity of Light which we observe in Persia; 
that Abstract Good, to which all are equally able to approach, 
and in which all equally may be hallowed. The Unity recog- 
nized therefore, now first becomes a principle, not an external 
bond of soulless order. The fact that everyone has a share in 
that principle, secures to him personal dignity. 

First as to Geographical position, we see China and India, 
exhibiting as it were the dull half-conscious brooding of Spirit, 
in fruitful plains — distinct from which is the lofty girdle of 
mountains with the wandering hordes that occupy them. The 
inhabitants of the heights, in their conquest, did not change 
the spirit of the plains, but imbibed it themselves. But in Persia 
the two principles — retaining their diversity — became united, 
and the mountain peoples with their principle became the pre- 
dominant element. The two chief divisions which we have to 


mention are : — the Persian Upland itself, and the Valley Plains, 
which are reduced under the dominion of the inhabitants of the 
Uplands. That elevated territory is bounded on the east by 
the Soliman mountains, which are continued in a northerly 
direction by the Hindoo Koosh and Belur Tag. The latter 
separate the anterior region — Bactriana and Sogdiana, occupy- 
ing the plains of the Oxus — from the Chinese Upland, which 
extends as far as Cashgar. That plain of the Oxus itself lies 
to the north of the Persian Upland, which declines on the south 
towards the Persian Gulf. This is the geographical position 
of Iran. On its western declivity lies Persia (Farsistan) ; 
higher to the north, Kourdistan — beyond this Armenia. Thence 
extend in a southwesterly direction the river districts of the 
Tigris and the Euphrates. — The elements of the Persian Em- 
pire are the Zend race — the old Parsees ; next the Assyrian, 
Median and Babylonian Empire in the region mentioned; but 
the Persian Empire also includes Asia Minor, Egypt, and Syria, 
with its line of coast; and thus combines the Upland, the 
Valley Plains and the Coast region. 

Chapter I.— The Zend People 

The £end People derived their name from the language in 
which the Zend Books are written, i.e. the canonical books on 
which the religion of the ancient Parsees is founded. Of this 
religion of the Parsees or Fire-worshippers, there are still traces 
extant. There is a colony of them in Bombay ; and on the 
Caspian Sea there are some scattered families that have re- 
tained this form of worship. Their national existence was put 
an end to by the Mahometans. The great Zerdusht — called 
Zoroaster by the Greeks — wrote his religious books in the Zend 
language. Until nearly the last third of the eighteenth century, 
this language and all the writings composed in it, were entirely 
unknown to Europeans ; when at length the celebrated French- 
man, Anquetil-Duperron, disclosed to us these rich treasures. 
Filled with an enthusiasm for the Oriental World, which his 
poverty did not allow him to gratify, he enlisted in a French 
corps that was about to sail for India. He thus reached Bom- 
bay, where he met with the Parsees, and entered on the study 
of their religious ideas. With indescribable difficulty he suc- 
ceeded in obtaining their religious books ; making his way into 


their literature, and thus opening an entirely new and wide field 
of research, but which, owing to his imperfect acquaintance 
with the language, still awaits thorough investigation. 

Where the Zend people, mentioned in the religious books 
of Zoroaster, lived, is difficult to determine. In Media and 
Persia the religion of Zoroaster prevailed, and Xenophon re- 
lates that Cyrus adopted it: but none of these countries was 
the proper habitat of the Zend people. Zoroaster himself calls 
it the pure Aryan : we find a similar name in Herodotus, for 
he says that the Medes were formerly called Arii — a name with 
which the designation Iran is connected. South of the Oxus 
runs a mountain chain in the ancient Bactriana — with which 
the elevated plains commence, that were inhabited by the Medes, 
the Parthians, and the Hyrcanians. In the district watered by 
the Oxus at the commencement of its course, Bactra — probably 
the modern Balk — is said to have been situated; from which 
Cabul and Cashmere are distant only about eight days' journey. 
Here in Bactriana appears to have been the seat of the Zend 
people. In the time of Cyrus we find the pure and original 
faith, and the ancient political and social relations such as they 
are described in the Zend books, no longer perfect. Thus much 
appears certain, that the Zend language, which is connected 
with the Sanscrit, was the language of the Persians, Medes, 
and Bactrians. The laws and institutions of the people bear 
an evident stamp of great simplicity. Four classes are men- 
tioned: Priests, Warriors, Agriculturists, and Craftsmen. 
Trade only is not noticed; from which it would appear that 
the people 'still remained in an isolated condition. Governors 
of Districts, Towns, and Roads, are mentioned ; so that all 
points to the social phase of society — the political not being yet 
developed ; and nothing indicates a connection with other 
states. It is essential to note, that we find here no Castes, but 
only Classes, and that there are no restrictions on marriage 
between these different Classes ; though the Zend writings an- 
nounce civil laws and penalties, together with religious enact- 

The chief point — that which especially concerns us here— 
is the doctrine of Zoroaster. In contrast with the wretched 
hebetude of Spirit which we find among the Hindoos, a pure 
ether — an exhalation of Spirit — meets us in the Persian con- 
ception. In it, Spirit emerges from that substantial Unity of 


Nature, that substantial destitution of import, in which a sepa- 
ration has not yet taken place — in which Spirit has not yet an 
independent existence in contraposition to its object. This 
people, namely, attained to the consciousness, that absolute 
Truth must have the form of Universality — of Unity. This 
Universal, Eternal, Infinite Essence is not recognized at first, 
as conditioned in any way; it is Unlimited Identity. This is 
properly (and we have already frequently repeated it) also the 
character of Brahm. But this Universal Being became objec- 
tive, and their Spirit became the consciousness of this its Es- 
sence; while on the contrary among the Hindoos this objectiv- 
ity is only the natural one of the Brahmins, and is recognized 
as pure Universality only in the destruction of consciousness. 
Among the Persians this negative assertion has become a posi- 
tive one; and man has a relation to Universal Being of such 
a kind that he remains positive in sustaining it. This One, 
Universal Being, is indeed not yet recognized as the free Unity 
of Thought ; not yet " worshipped in Spirit and in Truth " ; 
but is still clothed with a form — that of Light. But Light is 
not a Lama, a Brahmin, a Mountain, a brute — this or that par- 
ticular existence — but sensuous Universality itself; simple 
manifestation. The Persian Religion is therefore no idol-wor-* 
ship; it does not adore individual natural objects, but the Uni- 
versal itself. Light admits, moreover, the signification of the 
Spiritual ; it is the form of the Good and True — the substan- 
tiality of knowledge and volition as well as of all natural things. 
Light puts man in a position to be able to exercise choice; 
and he can only choose when he has emerged from that which 
had absorbed him. But Light directly involves an Opposite, 
namely, Darkness; just as Evil is the antithesis of Good. As 
man could not appreciate Good, if Evil were not ; and as he can 
be really good only when he has become acquainted with the 
contrary, so the Light does not exist without Darkness. Among 
the Persians, Ormuzd and Ahriman present the antithesis in 
question. Ormuzd is the Lord of the kingdom of Light — of 
Good ; Ahriman that of Darkness — of Evil. But there is a 
still higher being from whom both proceeded — a Universal Be- 
ing not affected by this antithesis, called Zeruane-Akerene — the 
Unlimited All. The All, i.e. is something abstract ; it does not 
exist for itself, and Ormuzd and Ahriman have arisen from it. 
This Dualism is commonly brought as a reproach against Ori- 


ental thought ; and, as far as the contradiction is regarded as 
absolute, that is certainly an irreligious understanding which 
remains satisfied with it. But the very nature of Spirit de- 
mands antithesis; the principle of Dualism belongs therefore 
to the idea of Spirit, which, in its concrete form, essentially in- 
volves distinction. Among the Persians, Purity and Impurity 
have both become subjects of consciousness; and Spirit, in 
order to comprehend itself, must of necessity place the Special 
and Negative existence in contrast with the Universal and Pos- 
itive. Only by overcoming this antithesis is Spirit twice-born 
— regenerated. The deficiency in the Persian principle is only 
that the Unity of the antithesis is not completely recognized; 
for in that indefinite conception of the Uncreated All, whence 
Ormuzd and Ahriman proceeded, the Unity is only the abso- 
lutely Primal existence, and does not reduce the contradictory 
elements to harmony in itself. Ormuzd creates of his own free 
will; but also according to the decree of Zeruane-Akerene (the 
representation wavers) ; and the harmonizing of the contradic- 
tion is only to be found in the contest which Ormuzd carries 
on with Ahriman, and in which he will at last conquer. Ormuzd 
is the Lord of Light, and he creates all that is beautiful and 
noble in the World, which is a Kingdom of the Sun. He is the 
excellent, the good, the positive in all natural and spiritual ex- 
istence. Light is the body of Ormuzd; thence the worship 
of Fire, because Ormuzd is present in all Light; but he is 
not the Sun or Moon itself. In these the Persians venerate 
only the Light, which is Ormuzd. Zoroaster asks Ormuzd who 
he is ? He answers : " My Name is the ground and centre of 
all existence — Highest Wisdom and Science — Destroyer of the 
Ills of the World, and maintainer of the Universe — Fulness of 
Blessedness — Pure Will," etc. That which comes from Or- 
muzd is living, independent, and lasting. Language testifies 
to his power; prayers are his productions. Darkness is on the 
contrary the body of Ahriman; but a perpetual fire banishes 
him from the temples. The chief end of every man's existence 
is to keep himself pure, and to spread this purity around him. 
The precepts that have this in view are very diffuse ; the moral 
requirements are however characterized by mildness. It is 
said : if a man loads you with revilings, and insults, but subse- 
quently humbles himself, call him your friend. We read in 

the Vendidad, that sacrifices consist chiefly of the flesh of clean 
Vol. 23 I— Classics 


animals, flowers and fruits, milk and perfumes. It is said 
there, " As man was created pure and worthy of Heaven, he 
becomes pure again through the law of the servants of Or- 
muzd, which is purity itself ; if he purifies himself by sanctity 
of thought, word, and deed. What is ' Pure Thought ' ? That 
which ascends to the beginning of things. What is ' Pure 
Word ' ? The Word of Ormuzd (the Word is thus personified 
and imports the living Spirit of the whole revelation of Or- 
muzd). What is ' Pure Deed '? The humble adoration of the 
Heavenly Hosts, created at the beginning of things." It is im- 
plied in this that man should be virtuous: his own will, his 
subjective freedom is presupposed. Ormuzd is not limited to 
particular forms of existence. Sun, Moon, and five other stars, 
which seem to indicate the planets — those illuminating and illu- 
minated bodies — are the primary symbols of Ormuzd; the 
Amshaspand, his first sons. Among these, Mitra is also named : 
but we are at a loss to fix upon the star which this name de- 
notes, as we are also in reference to the others. The Mitra 
is placed in the Zend Books among the other stars ; yet in the 
penal code moral transgressions are called " Mitrasins " — e.g. 
breach of promise, entailing 300 lashes; to which in the case 
of theft, 300 years of punishment in Hell are to be added. 
Mitra appears here as the presiding genius of man's inward 
higher life. Later on, great importance is assigned to Mitra 
as the mediator between Ormuzd and men. Even Herodotus 
mentions the adoration of Mitra. In Rome, at a later date, it 
became very prevalent as a secret worship; and we find traces 
of it even far into the middle ages. Besides those noticed there 
are other protecting genii, which rank under the Amshaspand, 
their superiors ; and are the governors and preservers of the 
world. The council of the seven great men whom the Persian 
Monarch had about him was likewise instituted in imitation 
of the court of Ormuzd. The Fervers — a kind of Spirit-World 
— are distinguished from the creatures of the mundane sphere. 
The Fervers are not Spirits according to our idea, for they ex- 
ist in every natural object, whether fire, water, or earth. Their 
existence is coeval with the origin of things; they are in all 
places, in highroads, towns, etc., and are prepared to give help 
to supplicants. Their abode is in Gorodman, the dwelling of 
the " Blessed," above the solid vault of heaven. As Son of 
Ormuzd we find the name Dshemshid: apparently the same 


as he whom the Greeks call Achaemenes, whose descendants are 
called Pishdadians — a race to which Cyrus was reported to be- 
long. Even at a later period the Persians seem to have had 
the designation Achsemenians among the Romans. (Horace, 
Odes III. i. 44.) Dshemshid, it is said, pierced the earth with 
a golden dagger ; which means nothing more than that he in- 
troduced agriculture. He is said then to have traversed the 
various countries, originated springs and rivers, and thereby 
fertilized certain tracts of land, and made the valleys teem with 
living beings, etc. In the Zendavesta, the name Gustasp is also 
frequently mentioned, which many recent investigators have 
been inclined to connect with Darius Hystaspes ; an idea how- 
ever that cannot be entertained for a moment, for this Gustasp 
doubtless belongs to the ancient Zend Race — to a period there- 
fore antecedent to Cyrus. Mention is made in the Zend books 
of the Turanians also, i.e. the Nomade tribes of the north; 
though nothing historical can be thence deduced. 

The ritual observances of the religion of Ormuzd import that 
men should conduct themselves in harmony with the Kingdom 
of Light. The great general commandment is therefore, as 
already said, spiritual and corporeal purity, consisting in many 
prayers to Ormuzd. It was made specially obligatory upon the 
Persians, to maintain living existences — to plant trees — to dig 
wells — to fertilize deserts ; in order that Life, the Positive, the 
Pure might be furthered, and the dominion of Ormuzd be uni- 
versally extended. External purity is contravened by touching 
a dead animal, and there are many directions for being purified 
from such pollution. Herodotus relates of Cyrus, that when 
he went against Babylon, and the river Gyndes engulfed one 
of the horses of the Chariot of the Sun, he was occupied for 
a year in punishing it, by diverting its stream into small canals, 
to deprive it of its power. Thus Xerxes, when the sea broke 
in pieces his bridges, had chains laid upon it as the wicked and 
pernicious being — Ahriman. 


Chapter II. — The Assyrians, Babylonians, Medes, and Persians 

As the Zend Race was the higher spiritual element of the 
Persian Empire, so in Assyria and Babylonia we have the ele- 
ment of external wealth, luxury and commerce. Traditions re- 
specting them ascend to the remotest periods of History; but 
in themselves they are obscure, and partly contradictory; and 
this contradiction is the less easy to be cleared up, as they have 
no canonical books or indigenous works. The Greek historian 
Ctesias is said to have had direct access to the archives of the 
Persian Kings ; yet we have only a few fragments remaining. 
Herodotus gives us much information; the accounts in the 
Bible are also valuable and remarkable in the highest degree, 
for the Hebrews were immediately connected with the Baby- 
lonians. In regard to the Persians, special mention must be 
made of the Epic, " Shah-nameh," by Ferdusi — a heroic poem 
in 60,000 strophes, from which Gorres has given a copious 
extract. Ferdusi lived at the beginning of the eleventh cen- 
tury a.d. at the court of Mahmoud the Great, at Ghasna, east 
of Cabui and Candahar. The celebrated Epic just mentioned 
has the old heroic traditions of Iran (that is of West Persia 
proper) for its subject; but it has not the value of a historical 
authority, since its contents are poetical and its author a Ma- 
hometan. The contest of Iran and Turan is described in this 
heroic poem. Iran is Persia Proper — the Mountain Land on 
the south of the Oxus ; Turan denotes the plains of the Oxus 
and those lying between it and the ancient Jaxartes. A hero, 
Rustan, plays the principal part in the poem ; but its narrations 
are either altogether fabulous, or quite distorted. Mention is 
made of Alexander, and he is called Ishkander or Skander of 
Roum. Roum means the Turkish Empire (even now one of 
its provinces is called Roumelia), but it denotes also the Ro- 
man; and in the poem Alexander's Empire has equally the ap- 
pellation Roum. Confusions of this kind are quite of a piece 
with the Mahometan views. It is related in the poem, that the 
King of Iran made war on Philip, and that this latter was 
beaten. The King then demanded Philip's daughter as a wife ; 
but after he had lived a long time with her, he sent her away 
because her breath was disagreeable. On returning to her 
father, she gave birth to a son — Skander, who hastened to Iran 
to take possession of the throne after the death of his father. 


Add to the above that in the whole of the poem no personage 
or narrative occurs that can be connected with Cyrus, and we 
have sufficient data for estimating its historical value. It has 
a value for us, however, so far as Ferdusi therein exhibits the 
spirit of his time, and the character and interest of Modern 
Persian views. 

As regards Assyria, we must observe, that it is a rather in- 
determinate designation. Assyria Proper is a part of Meso- 
potamia, to the north of Babylon. As chief towns of this Em- 
pire are mentioned, Atur or Assur on the Tigris, and of later 
origin Nineveh, said to have been founded and built by Ninus, 
the Founder of the Assyrian Empire. In those times one City 
constituted the whole Empire — Nineveh for example: so also 
Ecbatana in Media, which is said to have had seven walls, be- 
tween whose inclosures agriculture was carried on ; and within 
whose innermost wall was the palace of the ruler. Thus 
too, Nineveh, according to Diodorus, was 480 Stadia (about 12 
German miles — 55 English) in circumference. On the walls, 
which were 100 feet high, were fifteen hundred towers, within 
which a vast mass of people resided. Babylon included an 
equally immense population. These cities arose in consequence 
of a twofold necessity — on the one hand that of giving up the 
nomad life and pursuing agriculture, handicrafts and trade 
in a fixed abode ; and on the other hand of gaining protection 
against the roving mountaia peoples, and the predatory Arabs. 
Older traditions indicate that this entire valley district was 
traversed by Nomads, and that this mode of life gave way be- 
fore that of the cities. Thus Abraham wandered forth with his 
family from Mesopotamia westwards, into mountainous Pales- 
tine. Even at this day the country round Bagdad is thus in- 
tested by roving Nomads. Nineveh is said to have been built 
2050 years before Christ ; consequently the founding of the As- 
syrian Kingdom is of no later date. Ninus reduced under his 
sway also Babylonia, Media and Bactriana; the conquest of 
which latter country is particularly extolled as having displayed 
the greatest energy ; for Ctesias reckons the number of troops 
that accompanied Ninus, at 1,700,000 infantry and a propor- 
tionate number of cavalry. Bactra was besieged for a very 
considerable time, and its conquest is ascribed to Semiramis; 
who with a valiant host is said to have ascended the steep 
acclivity of a mountain. The personality of Semiramis wavers 


between mythological and historical representations. To her 
is ascribed the building of the Tower of Babel, respecting which 
we have in the Bible one of the oldest of traditions. — Babylon 
lay to the south, on the Euphrates, in a plain of great fertility 
and well adapted for agriculture. On the Euphrates and the 
Tigris there was considerable navigation. Vessels came partly 
from Armenia, partly from the South, to Babylon, and con- 
veyed thither an immense amount of material wealth. The land 
round Babylon was intersected by innumerable canals; more 
for purposes of agriculture — to irrigate the soil and to obviate 
inundations — than for navigation. The magnificent buildings 
of Semiramis in Babylon itself are celebrated; though how 
much of the city is to be ascribed to the more ancient period, 
is undetermined and uncertain. It is said that Babylon formed 
a square, bisected by the Euphrates. On one side of the stream 
was the temple of Bel, on the other the great palaces of the 
monarchs. The city is reputed to have had a hundred brazen 
(i.e. copper) gates, its walls being a hundred feet high, and 
thick in proportion, defended by two hundred and fifty towers. 
The thoroughfares in the city which led towards the river were 
closed every night by brazen doors. Ker Porter, an English- 
man, about twelve years ago (his whole tour occupied from 
1 817 to 1820) traversed the countries where ancient Babylon 
lay : on an elevation he thought he could discover remains still 
existing of the old tower of Babel ; and supposed that he had 
found traces of the numerous roads that wound around the 
tower, and in whose loftiest story the image of Bel was set up. 
There are besides many hills with remains of ancient struct- 
ures. The bricks correspond with the description in the Bibli- 
cal record of the building of the tower. A vast plain is covered 
by an innumerable multitude of such bricks, although for many 
thousand years the practice of removing them has been con- 
tinued ; and the entire town of Hila, which lies in the vicinity 
of the ancient Babylon, has been built with them. Herodotus 
relates some remarkable facts in the customs of the Babylo- 
nians, which appear to show that they were people living peace- 
ably and neighborly with each other. When anyone in Babylon 
fell ill, he was brought to some open place, that every passerby 
might have the opportunity of giving him his advice. Mar- 
riageable daughters were disposed of by auction, and the high 
price offered for 3- belle was allotted as a dowry for her plainer 


neighbor. Such an arrangement was not deemed inconsistent 
with the obligation under which every woman lay of prostitut- 
1 ing herself once in her life in the temple of Mylitta. It is diffi- 
cult to discover what connection this had with their religious 
ideas. This excepted, according to Herodotus's account, im- 
morality invaded Babylon only at a later period, when the 
people became poorer. The fact that the fairer portion of the 
sex furnished dowries for their less attractive sisters, seems 
to confirm his testimony so far as it shows a provident care 
.for all ; while that bringing of the sick into the public places 
indicates a certain neighborly feeling. 

We must here mention the Medes also. They were, like the 
Persians, a mountain-people, whose habitations were south and 
southwest of the Caspian Sea and stretched as far as Armenia. 
Among these Medes the Magi are also noticed as one of the 
six tribes that formed the Median people, whose chief charac- 
teristics were fierceness, barbarism, and warlike courage. The 
capital Ecbatana was built by Dejoces, not earlier. He is said 
to have united under his kingly rule the tribes of the Medes; 
after they had made themselves free a second time from Assyr- 
ian supremacy, and to have induced them to build and to fortify 
for him a palace befitting his dignity. As to the religion of the 
Medes, the Greeks call all the oriental Priests, Magi, which is 
therefore a perfectly indefinite name. But all the data point 
to the fact that among the Magi we may look for a compara- 
tively close connection with the Zend religion; but that, al- 
though the Magi preserved and extended it, it experienced 
great modifications in transmission to the various peoples who 
adopted it. Xenophon says, that Cyrus was the first that sacri- 
ficed to God according to the fashion of the Magi. The Medes 
therefore acted as a medium for propagating the Zend Religion. 

The Assyrian-Babylonian Empire, which held so many peo- 
ples in subjection, is said to have existed for one thousand or 
fifteen hundred years. The last ruler was Sardanapalus — a 
great voluptuary, according to the descriptions we have of him. 
Arbaces, the Satrap of Media, excited the other satraps against 
him ; and in combination with them, led the troops which as- 
sembled every year at Nineveh to pay the tribute, against Sar- 
danapalus. The latter, although he had gained many victories, 
was at last compelled to yield before overwhelming force, and 
to shut himself up in Nineveh ; and, when he could not longer 


offer resistance, to burn himself there with all his treasure. 
According to some chronologists, this took place 888 years B.C. ; 
according to others, at the end of the seventh century. After 
this catastrophe the empire was entirely broken up: it was 
divided into an Assyrian, a Median, and a Babylonian Empire, 
to which also belonged the Chaldeans — a mountain people from 
the north which had united with the Babylonians. These sev- 
eral Empires had in their turn various fortunes; though here 
we meet with a confusion in the accounts which has never been 
cleared up. Within this period of their existence begins their 
connection with the Jews and Egyptians. The Jewish people 
succumbed to superior force; the Jews were carried captive 
to Babylon, and from them we have accurate information re- 
specting the condition of this Empire. According to Daniel's 
statements there existed in Babylon a carefully appointed or- 
ganization for government business. He speaks of Magians — 
from whom the expounders of sacred writings, the soothsayers, 
astrologers, Wise Men and Chaldeans who interpreted dreams, 
are distinguished. The Prophets generally say much of the 
great commerce of Babylon ; but they also draw a terrible pict- 
ure of the prevailing depravity of manners. 

The real culmination of the Persian Empire is to be looked 
for in connection with the Persian people properly so called, 
which, embracing in its rule all Anterior Asia, came into con- 
tact with the Greeks. The Persians are found in extremely 
close and early connection with the Medes ; and the transmis- 
sion of the sovereignty to the Persians makes no essential dif- 
ference ; for Cyrus was himself a relation of the Median King, 
and the names of Persia and Media melt into one. At the head 
of the Persians and Medes, Cyrus made war upon Lydia and 
its king Croesus. Herodotus relates that there had been wars 
before that time between Lydia and Media, but which had been 
settled by the intervention of the King of Babylon. We recog- 
nize here a system of States, consisting of Lydia, Media, and 
Babylon. The latter had become predominant and had ex- 
tended its dominion to the Mediterranean Sea. Lydia stretched 
eastward as far as the Halys; and the border of the western 
coast of Asia Minor, the fair Greek colonies, were subject to 
it; a high degree of culture was thus already present in the 
Lydian Empire. Art and poetry were blooming there as culti- 
vated by the Greeks. These colonies also were subjected to 


Persia. Wise men, such as Bias, and still earlier, Thales, ad- 
vised them to unite themselves in a firm league, or to quit their 
cities and possessions, and to seek out for themselves other 
habitations; (Bias meant Sardinia). But such a union could 
not be realized among cities which were animated by the bitter- 
est jealousy of each other, and who lived in continual quarrel: 
while in the intoxication of affluence they were not capable of 
forming the heroic resolve to leave their homes for the sake 
of freedom. Only when they were on the very point of being 
subjugated by the Persians, did some cities give up certain for 
prospective possessions, in their aspiration after the highest 
good — Liberty. Herodotus says of the war against the Lyd- 
ians, that it made the Persians who were previously poor and 
barbarous, acquainted for the first time with the luxuries of 
life and civilization. After the Lydian conquest Cyrus subju- 
gated Babylon. With it he came into possession of Syria and 
Palestine ; freed the Jews from captivity, and allowed them to 
rebuild their temple. Lastly, he led an expedition against the 
Massagetse; engaged with them in the steppes between the 
Oxus and the Jaxartes, but sustained a defeat, and died the 
death of a warrior and conqueror. The death of heroes who 
have formed an epoch in the History of the World, is stamped 
with the character of their mission. Cyrus thus died in his 
mission, which was the union of Anterior Asia into one sover- 
eignty without an ulterior object. 

Chapter III.— The Persian Empire and its Constituent Parts 

The Persian Empire is an Empire in the modern sense- 
like that which existed in Germany, and the great imperial 
reairn under the sway of Napoleon; for we find it consisting 
of a number of states, which are indeed dependent, but which 
have retained their own individuality, their manners, and laws. 
The general enactments, binding upon all, did not infringe 
upon their political and social idiosyncrasies, but even protected 
and maintained them ; so that each of the nations that constitute 
the whole, had its own form of Constitution. As Light illumi- 
nates everything — imparting to each object a peculiar vitality 
— so the Persian Empire extends over a multitude of nations, 
and leaves to each one its particular character. Some have 
even kings of their own; each one its distinct language, arms, 


way of life, and customs. All this diversity coexists harmoni- 
ously under the impartial dominion of Light. The Persian 
Empire comprehends all the three geographical elements, which 
we classified as distinct. First, the Uplands of Persia and 
Media; next, the Valley-plains of the Euphrates and Tigris, 
whose inhabitants are found united in a developed form of civ- 
ilization, with Egypt — jthe Valley-plain of the Nile — where 
agriculture, industrial arts and sciences flourished ; and lastly 
a third element, viz. the nations who encounter the perils of 
the sea — the Syrians, the Phoenicians, the inhabitants of the 
Greek colonies and Greek Maritime States in Asia Minor. 
Persia thus united in itself the three natural principles, while 
China and India remained foreign to the sea. We find here 
neither that consolidated totality which China presents, nor 
that Hindoo life, in which an anarchy of caprice is prevalent 
everywhere. In Persia, the government, though joining all 
in a central unity, is but a combination of peoples — leaving each 
of them free. Thereby a stop is put to that barbarism and 
ferocity with which the nations had been wont to carry on their 
destructive feuds, and which the Book of Kings and the Book 
of Samuel sufficiently attest. The lamentations of the Prophets 
And their imprecations upon the state of things before the con- 
quest, show the misery, wickedness and disorder that prevailed 
among them, and the happiness which Cyrus diffused over 
the region of Anterior Asia. It was not given to the Asiatics 
to unite self-dependence, freedom and substantial vigor of 
mind, with culture, i.e. an interest for diverse pursuits and an 
acquaintance with the conveniences of life. Military valor 
among them is consistent only with barbarity of manners. It 
is not the calm courage of order; and when their mind opens 
to a sympathy with various interests, it immediately passes into 
effeminacy; allows its energies to sink, and makes men the 
slaves of an enervated sensuality. 

The Persians — a free mountain and nomad people — though 
ruling over richer, more civilized and fertile lands — retained 
on the whole the fundamental characteristics of their ancient 
mode of life. They stood with one foot on their ancestral 
territory, with the other on their foreign conquests. In his 
ancestral land the King was a friend among friends, and as if 


surrounded by equals. Outside of it, he was the lord to whom 
all were subject, and bound to acknowledge their dependence 
by the payment of tribute. Faithful to the Zend religion, the 
Persians give themselves to the pursuit of piety and the pure 
worship of Ormuzd. The tombs of the Kings were in Persia 
Proper ; and there the King sometimes visited his countrymen, 
with whom he lived in relations of the greatest simplicity. He 
brought with him presents for fhem, while all other nations 
were obliged to make presents to him. At the court of the 
monarch there was a division of Persian cavalry which consti- 
tuted the elite of the whole army, ate at a common table, and 
were subject to a most perfect discipline in every respect. They 
made themselves illustrious by their bravery, and even the 
Greeks awarded a tribute of respect to their valor in the Median 
wars. When the entire Persian host, to which this division 
belonged, was to engage in an expedition, a summons was first 
issued to all the Asiatic populations. When the warriors were 
assembled, the expedition was undertaken with that character 
of restlessness, that nomadic disposition which formed the idio- 
syncrasy of the Persians. Thus they invaded Egypt, Scythia, 
Thrace, and at last Greece; where their vast power was des- 
tined to be shattered. A march of this kind looked almost like 
an emigration : their families accompanied them. Each people 
exhibited its national features and warlike accoutrements, and 
poured forth en masse. Each had its own order of march and 
mode of warfare. Herodotus sketches for us a brilliant picture 
of this variety of aspect as it presented itself in the vast march 
of nations under Xerxes (two millions of human beings are 
said to have accompanied him). Yet, as these peoples were so 
unequally disciplined — so diverse in strength and bravery — it 
is easy to understand how the small but well-trained armies 
of the Greeks, animated by the same spirit, and under matchless 
leadership, could withstand those innumerable but disorderly 
hosts of the Persians. The provinces had to provide for the 
support of the Persian cavalry, which were quartered in the 
centre of the kingdom. Babylon had to contribute the third 
part of the supplies in question, and consequently appears to 
have been by far the richest district. As regards other branches 
of revenue, each people was obliged to supply the choicest of the 
peculiar produce which the district afforded. Thus Arabia gave 
frankincense, Syria purple, etc. 


The education of the princes — but especially that of the heir 
to the throne — was conducted with extreme care. Till 
their seventh year the sons of the King remained among 
the women, and did not come into the royal presence. From 
their seventh year forward they were instructed in hunting, 
riding, shooting with the bow, and also in speaking the truth. 
There is one statement to the effect that the prince received 
instruction in the Magian lore of Zoroaster. Four of the 
noblest Persians conducted the prince's education. The mag- 
nates of the land, at large, constituted a kind of Diet. Among 
them Magi were also found. They are depicted as free men, 
animated by a noble fidelity and patriotism. Of such character 
seem the seven nobles — the counterpart of the Amshaspand 
who stand around Ormuzd — when after the unmasking of the 
false Smerdis, who on the death of King Cambyses gave him- 
self out as his brother, they assembled to deliberate on the 
most desirable form of government. Quite free from passion, 
and without exhibiting any ambition, they agree that monarchy 
is the only form of government adapted to the Persian Empire. 
The Sun, and the horse which first salutes them with a neigh, 
decide the succession in favor of Darius. The magnitude of 
the Persian dominion occasioned the government of the prov- 
inces by viceroys — Satraps; and these often acted very arbi- 
trarily to the provinces subjected to their rule, and displayed 
hatred and envy towards each other ; a source of much evil. 
These satraps were only superior presidents of the provinces, 
and generally left the subject kings of the countries in posses- 
sion of regal privileges. All the land and all the water be- 
longed to the Great King of the Persians. " Land and Water " 
were the demands of Darius Hystaspes and Xerxes from the 
Greeks. But the King was only the abstract sovereign: the 
enjoyment of the country remained to the nations themselves; 
whose obligations were comprised in the maintenance of the 
court and the satraps, and the contribution of the choicest part 
of their property. Uniform taxes first make their appearance 
under the government of Darius Hystaspes. On the occasion 
of a royal progress the districts of the empire visited had to give 
presents to the King; and from the amount of these gifts we 
may infer the wealth of the unexhausted provinces. Thus the 
dominion of the Persians was by no means oppressive, either in 
secular or religious respects. The Persians, according to He- 


rodotus, had no idols — in fact ridiculed anthropomorphic rep- 
resentations of the gods; but they tolerated every religion, 
although there may be found expressions of wrath against idol- 
atry. Greek temples were destroyed, and the images of the 
gods broken in pieces. 

Syria and the Semitic Western Asia 

One element — the coast territory — which also belonged to 
the Persian Empire, is especially represented by Syria. It was 
peculiarly important to the Persian Empire; for when Conti- 
nental Persia set out on one of its great expeditions, it was 
accompanied by Phoenician as well as by Greek navies. The 
Phoenician coast is but a very narrow border — often only two 
leagues broad — which has the high mountains of Lebanon on 
the East. On the seacoast lay a series of noble and rich cities, 
as Tyre, Sidon, Byblus, Berytus, carrying on great trade and 
commerce; which last, however, was too isolated and confined 
to that particular country, to allow it to affect the whole Persian 
state. Their commerce lay chiefly in the direction of the Medi- 
terranean sea, and it reached thence far into the West. Through 
its intercourse with so many nations, Syria soon attained a high 
degree of culture. There the most beautiful fabrications in 
metals and precious stones were prepared, and there the most 
important discoveries, e.g. of Glass and of Purple, were made. 
Written language there received its first development, for in 
their intercourse with various nations the need of it was soon 
felt. (So, to quote another example, Lord Macartney observes 
that in Canton itself, the Chinese had felt and expressed the 
need of a more pliable written language.) The Phoenicians 
discovered and first navigated the Atlantic Ocean. They had 
settlements in Cyprus and Crete. In the remote island of Tha- 
sos, they worked gold mines. In the south and southwest of 
Spain they opened silver mines. In Africa they founded the 
colonies of Utica and Carthage. From Gades they sailed far 
down the African coast, and according to some, even circum- 
navigated Africa. From Britain they brought tin, and from the 
Baltic, Prussian amber. This opens to us an entirely new 
principle. Inactivity ceases, as also mere rude valor ; in their 
place appears the activity of Industry, and that considerate 
courage which, while it dares the perils of the deep, rationally 
bethinks itself of the means of safety. Here everything de- 


pends on Man's activity, his courage, his intelligence ; white 
the objects aimed at are also pursued in the interest of Man. 
Human will and activity here occupy the foreground, not Nat- 
ure and its bounty. Babylonia had its determinate share of 
territory, and human subsistence was there dependent on the 
course of the sun and the process of Nature generally. But 
the sailor relies upon himself amid the fluctuations of the waves, 
and eye and heart must be always open. In like manner the 
principle of Industry involves the very opposite of what is 
received from Nature; for natural objects are worked up for 
use and ornament. In Industry Man is an object to himself, 
and treats Nature as something subject to him, on which he 
impresses the seal of his activity. Intelligence is the valor 
needed here, and ingenuity is better than mere natural courage. 
At this point we see the nations freed from the fear of Nature 
and its slavish bondage. 

If we compare their religious ideas with the above, we shall 
see in Babylon, in the Syrian tribes, and in Phrygia, first a rude, 
vulgar, sensual idolatry — a description of which in its principal 
features is given in the Prophets. Nothing indeed more specific 
than idolatry is mentioned ; and this is an indefinite term. The 
Chinese, the Hindoos, the Greeks, practise idolatry; the Cath- 
olics, too, adore the images of saints; but in the sphere of 
thought with which we are at present occupied, it is the powers 
of Nature and of production generally that constitute the object 
of veneration; and the worship is luxury and pleasure. The 
Prophets give the most terrible pictures of this — though their 
repulsive character must be partly laid to the account of the 
hatred of Jews against neighboring peoples. Such representa- 
tions are particularly ample in the Book of Wisdom. Not only 
was there a worship of natural objects, but also of the Universal 
Power of Nature — Astarte, Cybele, Diana of Ephesus. The 
worship paid was a sensuous intoxication, excess, and revelry: 
sensuality and cruelty are its two characteristic traits. " When 
they keep their holy days they act as if mad," [" they are mad 
when they be merry " — English Version] says the Book of 
Wisdom (xiv. 28). With a merely sensuous life — this being 
a form of consciousness which does not attain to general con- 
ceptions — cruelty is connected ; because Nature itself is the 
Highest, so that Man has no value, or only the most trifling. 
Moreover, the genius of such a polytheism involves the de- 



struction of its consciousness on the part of Spirit in striving 
to identify itself with Nature, and the annihilation of the Spir- 
itual generally. Thus we see children sacrificed — priests of 
Cybele subjecting themselves to mutilation — men making them- 
selves eunuchs — women prostituting themselves in the temple. 
As a feature of the court of Babylon it deserves to be remarked, 
that when Daniel was brought up there, it was not required 
of him to take part in the religious observances ; and moreover 
that food ceremonially pure was allowed him; that he was in 
requisition especially for interpreting the dreams of the King, 
because he had " the spirit of the holy gods." The King pro- 
poses to elevate himself above sensuous life by dreams, as indi- 
cations from a superior power. It is thus generally evident, 
that the bond of religion was lax, and that here no unity is to be 
found. For we observe also adorations offered to images of 
kings; the power of Nature and the King as a spiritual Power, 
are the Highest ; so that in this form of idolatry there is mani- 
fested a perfect contrast to the Persian purity. 

We find on the other hand something quite different among 
the Phoenicians, that bold seafaring people. Herodotus tells 
us, that at Tyre Hercules was worshipped. If the divinity in 
question i§ not absolutely identical with the Greek demigod, 
there must be understood by that name one whose attributes 
nearly agree with his. This worship is particularly indicative 
of the character of the people ; for it is Hercules of whom the 
Greeks say, that he raised himself to Olympus by dint of human 
courage and daring. The idea of the Sun perhaps originated 
that of Hercules as engaged in his twelve labors ; but this basis 
does not give us the chief feature of the myth, which is, that 
Hercules is that scion of the gods who, by his virtue and exer- 
tion' made himself a god by human spirit and valor ; and who, 
instead of passing his life in idleness, spends it in hardship and 
toil. A second religious element is the worship of Adonis, 
which takes place in the towns of the coast (it was celebrated 
in Egypt also by the Ptolemies) ; and respecting which we find 
a notable passage in the Book of Wisdom (xiv. 13, etc.), where 
it is said : " The idols were not from the beginning — but were 
invented through the vain ambition of men, because the latter 
are short-lived. For a father afflicted with untimely mourning, 
when he had made an image of his child (Adonis) early taken 
away, honored him as a god, who was a dead man, and deliv- 


ered to those that were under him ceremonies and sacrifices " 
(E. V. nearly). The feast of Adonis was very similar to the 
worship of Osiris — the commemoration of his death — a funeral 
festival, at which the women broke out into the most extrava- 
gant lamentations over the departed god. In India lamentation 
is suppressed in the heroism of insensibility; uncomplaining, 
the women there plunge into the river, and the men, ingenious 
in inventing penances, impose upon themselves the direst tor- 
tures; for they give themselves up to the loss of vitality, in 
order to destroy consciousness in empty abstract contemplation. 
Here, on the contrary, human pain becomes an element of 
worship; in pain man realizes his subjectivity: it is expected 
of him — he may here indulge self-consciousness and the feeling 
of actual existence. Life here regains its value. A universality 
of pain is established : for death becomes immanent in the Di- 
vine, and the deity dies. Among the Persians we saw Light 
and Darkness struggling with each other, but here both prin- 
ciples are united in one — the Absolute. The Negative is here, 
too, the merely Natural; but as the death of a god, it is not 
a limitation attaching to an individual object, but is pure Nega- 
tivity itself. And this point is important, because the generic 
conception that has to be formed of Deity is Spirit; which 
involves its being concrete, and having in it the element of 
negativity. The qualities of wisdom and power are also con- 
crete qualities, but only as predicates; so that God remains 
abstract substantial unity, in which differences themselves van- 
ish, and do not become organic elements (Momente) of this 
unity. But here the Negative itself is a phase of Deity — the 
Natural — Death ; — the worship appropriate to which is grief. 
It is in the celebration of the death of Adonis, and of his resur- 
rection, that the concrete is made conscious. Adonis is a youth, 
who is torn from his parents by a too early death. In China, 
in the worship of ancestors, these latter enjoy divine honor. 
But parents in their decease only pay the debt of Nature. When 
a youth is snatched away by death, the occurrence is regarded 
as contrary to the proper order of things ; and while affliction 
at the death of parents is no just affliction, in the case of youth 
death is a paradox. And this is the deeper element in the con- 
ception — that in the Divinity, Negativity — Antithesis — is man- 
ifested ; and that the worship rendered to him involves both 
elements — the pain felt for the divinity snatched away, and 
the joy occasioned by his being found again. 



The next people belonging to the Persian empire, in that 
wide circle of nationalities which it comprises, is the Jewish. 
We find here, too, a canonical book — the Old Testament ; in 
which the views of this people — whose principle is the exact 
opposite of the one just described — are exhibited. While 
among the Phoenician people the Spiritual was still limited 
by Nature, in the case of the Jews we find it entirely purified ; — 
the pure product of Thought. Self-conception appears in the 
field of consciousness, and the Spiritual develops itself in sharp 
contrast to Nature and to union with it. It is true that we 
observed at an earlier stage the pure conception " Brahm " ; 
but only as the universal being of Nature; and with this lim- 
itation, that Brahm is not himself an object of consciousness. 
Among the Persians we saw this abstract being become an 
object for consciousness, but it was that of sensuous intuition — 
as Light. But the idea of Light has at this stage advanced 
to that of " Jehovah " — the purely One. This forms the point 
of separation between the East and the West ; Spirit descends 
into the depths of its own being, and recognizes the abstract 
fundamental principle as the Spiritual. Nature — which in the 
East is the primary and fundamental existence — is now de- 
pressed to the condition of a mere creature; and Spirit now 
occupies the first place. God is known as the creator of all 
men, as he is of all nature, and as absolute causality generally. 
But this great principle, as further conditioned, is exclusive 
Unity. This religion must necessarily possess the element of 
exclusiveness, which consists essentially in this — that only the 
One People which adopts it, recognizes the One God, and is 
acknowledged by him. The God of the Jewish People is the 
God only of Abraham and of his seed : National individuality 
and a special local worship are involved in such a conception 
of deity. Before him all other gods are false: moreover the 
distinction between " true " and " false " is quite abstract ; for 
as regards the false gods, not a ray of the Divine is supposed 
to shine into them. But every form of spiritual force, and 
a fortiori every religion is of such a nature, that whatever be 
its peculiar character, an affirmative element is necessarily con- 
tained in it. However erroneous a religion may be, it possesses 
truth, although in a mutilated phase. In every religion there 


is a divine presence, a divine relation ; and a philosophy of His- 
tory has to seek out the spiritual element even in the most 
imperfect forms. But it does not follow that because it is a 
religion, it is therefore good. We must not fall into the lax 
conception, that the content is of no importance, but only the 
form. This latitudinarian tolerance the Jewish religion does 
not admit, being absolutely exclusive. 

The Spiritual speaks itself here absolutely free of the Sen- 
suous, and Nature is reduced to something merely external 
and undivine. This is the true and proper estimate of Nature 
at this stage ; for only at a more advanced phase can the Idea 
attain a reconciliation [recognize itself] in this its alien form. 
Its first utterances will be in opposition to Nature ; for Spirit, 
which had been hitherto dishonored, now first attains its due 
dignity, while Nature resumes its proper positioa Nature is 
conceived as having the ground of its existence in another — 
as something posited, created; and this idea, that God is the 
lord and creator of Nature, leads men to regard God as the 
Exalted One, while the whole of Nature is only his robe of 
glory, and is expended in his service. In contrast with this 
kind of exaltation, that which the Hindoo religion presents is 
only that of indefinitude. In virtue of the prevailing spiritual- 
ity the Sensuous and Immoral are no longer privileged, but 
disparaged as ungodliness. Only the One — Spirit — the Non- 
sensuous is the Truth ; Thought exists free for itself, and true 
morality and righteousness can now make their appearance ; 
for God is honored by righteousness, and right-doing is " walk- 
ing in the way of the Lord." With this is conjoined happiness, 
life and temporal prosperity as its reward ; for it is said : 
" that thou mayest live long in the land." — Here too also we 
have the possibility of a historical view ; for the understanding 
has become prosaic; putting the limited and circumscribed in 
its proper place, and comprehending it as the form proper to 
finite existence: Men are regarded as individuals, not as in- 
carnations of God ; Sun as Sun, Mountains as Mountains — 
not as possessing Spirit and Will. 

We observe among this people a severe religious ceremonial, 
expressing a relation to pure Thought. The individual as con- 
crete does not become free, because the Absolute itself is not 
comprehended as concrete Spirit; since Spirit still appears 
posited as non-spiritual — destitute of its proper characteristics. 



It is true that subjective feeling is manifest — the pure heart, 
repentance, devotion; but the particular concrete individuality 
has not become objective to itself in the Absolute. It therefore 
remains closely bound to the observance of ceremonies and of 
the Law, the basis of which latter is pure freedom in its ab- 
stract form. The Jews possess that which makes them what 
they are, through the One: consequently the individual has no 
freedom for itself. Spinoza regards the code of Moses as 
having been given by God to the Jews for a punishment — a rod 
of correction. The individual never comes to the consciousness 
of independence; on that account we do not find among the 
Jews any belief in the immortality of the soul ; for individuality 
does not exist in and for itself. But though in Judaism the 
Individual is not respected, the Family has inherent value ; for 
the worship of Jehovah is attached to the Family, and it is con- 
sequently viewed as a substantial existence. But the State is 
an institution not consonant with the Judaistic principle, and it 
is alien to the legislation of Moses. In the idea of the Jews, 
Jehovah is the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and Jacob; who 
commanded them to depart out of Egypt, and gave them the 
land of Canaan. The accounts of the Patriarchs attract 
our interest. We seen in this history the transition from 
the patriarchal nomade condition to agriculture. On the whole 
the Jewish history exhibits grand features of character ; but 
it is disfigured by an exclusive bearing (sanctioned in its re- 
ligion), towards the genius of other nations (the destruction 
of the inhabitants of Canaan being even commanded) — by want 
of culture generally, and by the superstition arising from the 
idea of the high value of their peculiar nationality. Miracles, 
too, form a disturbing feature in this history — as history; for 
as far as concrete consciousness is not free, concrete percep- 
tion is also not free; Nature is undeified, but not yet under- 

The Family became a great nation ; through the conquest 
of Canaan, it took a whole country into possession ; and erected 
a Temple for the entire people, in Jerusalem. But properly 
speaking no political union existed. In case of national danger 
heroes arose, who placed themselves at the head of the armies ; 
though the nation during this period was for the most part in 
subjection. Later on, kings were chosen, and it was they who 
first rendered the Jews independent. David even made con* 


quests. Originally the legislation is adapted to a family only; 
yet in the books of Moses the wish for a king is anticipated. 
The priests are to choose him: he is not to be a foreigner — 
not to have horsemen in large numbers — and he is to have few 
wives. After a short period of glory the kingdom suffered 
internal disruption and was divided. As there was only one 
tribe of Levites and one Temple — i.e. in Jerusalem — idolatry 
was immediately introduced. The One God could not be hon- 
ored in different Temples, and there could not be two kingdoms 
attached to one religion. However spiritual may be the con- 
ception of God as objective, the subjective side — the honor ren- 
dered to him — is still very limited and unspiritual in character. 
The two kingdoms, equally infelicitous in foreign and domestic 
warfare, were at last subjected to the Assyrians and Babylo- 
nians ; through Cyrus the Israelites obtained permission to re- 
turn home and live according to their own laws. 


The Persian Empire is one that has passed away, and we 
have nothing but melancholy relics of its glory. Its fairest 
and richest towns — such as Babylon, Susa, Persepolis — are 
razed to the ground ; and only a few ruins mark their ancient 
site. Even in the more modern great cities of Persia — Ispahan 
and Shiraz — half of them has become a ruin; and they have 
not — as is the case with ancient Rome — developed a new life, 
but have lost their place almost entirely in the remembrance of 
the surrounding nations. Besides the other lands already enu- 
merated as belonging to the Persian Empire, Egypt claims 
notice — characteristically the Land of Ruins ; a land which 
from hoar antiquity has been regarded with wonder, and which 
in recent times also has attracted the greatest interest. Its 
ruins, the final result of immense labor, surpass in the gigantic 
and monstrous, all that antiquity has left us. 

In Egypt we see united the elements which in the Persian 
monarchy appeared singly. We found among the Persians the 
adoration of Light — regarded as the Essence of universal Nat- 
ure. This principle then develops itself in phases which hold 
a position of indifference towards each other. The one is the 
immersion in the sensuous — among the Babylonians and Syr- 
ians ; the other is the Spiritual phase, which is twofold : first 
as the incipient consciousness of the concrete Spirit in the 



worship of Adonis, and then as pure and abstract thought 
among the Jews. In the former the concrete is deficient in 
unity; in the latter the concrete is altogether wanting. The 
next problem is then, to harmonize these contradictory ele- 
ments; and this problem presents itself in Egypt. Of the 
representations which Egyptian Antiquity presents us with, 
one figure must be especially noticed, viz. the Sphinx — in itself 
a riddle — an ambiguous form, half brute, half human. The 
Sphinx may be regarded as a symbol of the Egyptian Spirit. 
The human head looking out from the brute body, exhibits 
Spirit as it begins to emerge from the merely Natural — to tear 
itself loose therefrom and already to look more freely around 
it; without, however, entirely freeing itself from the fetters 
Nature had imposed. The innumerable edifices of the Egyp- 
tians are half below the ground, and half rise above it into the 
air. The whole land is divided into a kingdom of life and 
a kingdom of death. The colossal statue of Memnon resounds 
at the first glance of the young morning Sun ; though it is not 
yet the free light of Spirit with which it vibrates. Written 
language is still a hieroglyphic ; and its basis is only the sensu- 
ous image, not the letter itself. 

Thus the memorials of Egypt themselves give us a multitude 
of forms and images that express its character; we recognize 
a Spirit in them which feels itself compressed ; which utters 
itself, but only in a sensuous mode. 

Egypt was always the Land of Marvels, and has remained 
so to the present day. It is from the Greeks especially that 
we get information respecting it, and chiefly from Herodotus. 
This intelligent historiographer himself visited the country of 
which he wished to give an account, and at its chief towns 
made acquaintance with the Egyptian priests. Of all that he 
saw and heard, he gives an accurate record ; but the deeper 
symbolism of the Egyptian mythology he has refrained from 
unfolding. This he regards as something sacred, and respect- 
ing which he cannot so freely speak as of merely external ob- 
jects. Besides him Diodorus Siculus is an authority of great 
importance ; and among the Jewish historians, Josephus. 

In their architecture and hieroglyphics, the thoughts and 
conceptions of the Egyptians are expressed. A national work 
in the department of language is wanting: and that not only 
to us, but to the Egyptians themselves; they could not have 


any, because they had not advanced to an understanding of 
themselves. Nor was there any Egyptian history, until at last 
Ptolemy Philadelphus — he who had the sacred books of the 
Jews translated into Greek — prompted the High-Priest Mane- 
tho to write an Egyptian history. Of this we have only extracts 
— list of Kings; which however have occasioned the greatest 
perplexities and contradictory views. To become acquainted 
with Egypt, we must for the most part have recourse to the 
notices of the ancients, and the immense monuments that are 
left us. We find a number of granite walls on which hiero- 
glyphics are graved, and the ancients have given us explana- 
tions of some of them, but which are quite insufficient. In 
recent times attention has especially been recalled to them, and 
after many efforts something at least of the hieroglyphic writ- 
ing has been deciphered. The celebrated Englishman, Thomas 
Young, first suggested a method of discovery, and called atten- 
tion to the fact, that there are small surfaces separated from 
the other hieroglyphics, and in which a Greek translation is 
perceptible. By comparison Young made out three names — 
Berenice, Cleopatra, and Ptolemy — and this was the first step 
in deciphering them. It was found at a later date, that a great 
part of the hieroglyphics are phonetic, that is, express sounds. 
Thus the figure of an eye denotes first the eye itself, but sec- 
ondly the first letter of the Egyptian word that means " eye " 
(as in Hebrew the figure of a house, 2, denotes the letter b, 
with which the word T\^2, House, begins). The celebrated 
Champollion (the younger), first called attention to the fact 
that the phonetic hieroglyphs are intermingled with those which 
mark conceptions; and thus classified the hieroglyphs and es- 
tablished settled principles for deciphering them. 

The History of Egypt, as we have it, is full of the greatest 
contradictions. The Mythical is blended with the Historical, 
and the statements are as diverse as can be imagined. Euro- 
pean literati have eagerly investigated the lists given by Mane- 
tho and have relied upon them, and several names of kings have 
been confirmed by the recent discoveries. Herodotus says that 
according to the statements of the priests, gods had formerly 
reigned over Egypt, and that from the first human king down 
to the King Setho 341 generations, or 11,340 years, had passed 
away ; but that the first human ruler was Menes (the resem- 
blance of the name to the Greek Minos and the Hindoo Manu 


is striking). With the exception of the Thebaid — its most 
southern part — Egypt was said by them to have formed a lake ; 
the Delta presents reliable evidence of having been produced 
by the silt of the Nile. As the Dutch have gained their terri- 
tory from the sea, and have found means to sustain themselves 
upon it; so the Egyptians first acquired their country, and 
maintained its fertility by canals and lakes. An important feat- 
ure in the history of Egypt is its descent from Upper to Lower 
Egypt — from the South to the North. With this is connected 
the consideration that Egypt probably received its culture from 
Ethiopia ; principally from the island Meroe, which, according 
to recent hypotheses, was occupied by a sacerdotal people. 
Thebes in Upper Egypt was the most ancient residence of the 
Egyptian kings. Even in Herodotus's time it was in a state 
of dilapidation. The ruins of this city present the most enor- 
mous specimens of Egyptian architecture that we are ac- 
quainted with. Considering their antiquity they are remark- 
ably well preserved : which is partly owing to the perpetually 
cloudless sky. The centre of the kingdom was then transferred 
to Memphis, not far from the modern Cairo ; and lastly to Sais, 
in the Delta itself. The structures that occur in the locality of 
this city are of very late date and imperfectly preserved. He- 
rodotus tells us that Memphis was referred to so remote a 
founder as Menes. Among the later kings must be especially 
noticed Sesostris, who, according to Champollion, is Rameses 
the Great. To him in particular are referred a number of mon- 
uments and pictures in which are depicted his triumphal pro- 
cessions, and the captives taken in battle. Herodotus speaks 
of his conquests in Syria, extending even to Colchis ; and illus- 
trates his statement by the great similarity between the man- 
ners of the Colchians and those of the Egyptians ; these two 
nations and the Ethiopians were the only ones that had always 
practised circumcision. Herodotus says, moreover, that Sesos- 
tris had vast canals dug through the whole of Egypt, which 
served to convey the water of the Nile to every part. It may 
be generally remarked that the more provident the government 
in Egypt was, so much the more regard did it pay to the main- 
tenance of the canals, while under negligent governments the 
desert got the upper hand ; for Egypt was engaged in a con- 
stant struggle with the fierceness of the heat and with the water 
of the Nile. It appears from Herodotus, that the country had 


become impassable for cavalry in consequence of the canals; 
while, on the contrary, we see from the books of Moses, how 
celebrated Egypt once was in this respect. Moses says that 
if the Jews desired a king, he must not marry too many wives, 
nor send for horses from Egypt. 

Next to Sesostris the Kings Cheops and Chephren deserve 
special mention. They are said to have built enormous pyra- 
mids and closed the temples of the priests. A son of Cheops — 
Mycerinus — is said to have reopened them ; after him the Ethi- 
opians invaded the country, and their king, Sabaco, made him- 
self sovereign of Egypt. But Anysis, the successor of Myceri- 
nus, fled into the marshes — to the mouth of the Nile ; only after 
the departure of the Ethiopians did he make his appearance 
again. He was succeeded by Setho, who had been a priest of 
Phtha (supposed to be the same as Hephaestus) : under his 
government, Sennacherib, King of the Assyrians, invaded the 
country. Setho had always treated the warrior-caste with great 
disrespect, and even robbed them of their lands ; and when he 
invoked their assistance, they refused it. He was obliged there- 
fore to issue a general summons to the Egyptians, and assem- 
bled a host composed of hucksters, artisans, and market people. 
In the Bible we are told that the enemies fled, and that it was 
the angels who routed them ; but Herodotus relates that field- 
mice came in the night and gnawed the quivers and bows of 
the enemy, so that the latter, deprived of their weapons, were 
compelled to flee. After the death of Setho, the Egyptians 
(Herodotus tells us) regarded themselves as free, and chose 
themselves twelve kings, who formed a federal union — as a 
symbol of which they built the Labyrinth, consisting of an im- 
mense number of rooms and halls above and below ground. In 
the year 650 b.c. one of these kings, Psammitichus, with the 
help of the Ionians and Carians (to whom he promised land in 
Lower Egypt), expelled the eleven other kings. Till that time 
Egypt had remained secluded from the rest of the world ; and 
at sea it had established no connection with other nations. 
Psammitichus commenced such a connection, and thereby led 
the way to the ruin of Egypt. From this point the history be- 
comes clearer, because it is based on Greek accounts. Psammit- 
ichus was followed by Necho, who began to dig a canal, which 
was to unite the Nile with the Red Sea, but which was not 
completed until the reign of Darius Nothus. The plan of unit- 


ing the Mediterranean Sea with the Arabian Gulf, and the 
wide ocean, is not so advantageous as might be supposed ; since 
in the Red Sea — which on other accounts is very difficult to nav- 
igate — there prevails for about nine months in the year a con- 
stant north wind, so that it is only during three months that 
the passage from south to north is feasible. Necho was fol- 
lowed by Psammis, and the latter by Apries, who led an army 
against Sidon, and engaged with the Tyrians by sea: against 
Cyrene also he sent an army, which was almost annihilated by 
the Cyrenians. The Egyptians rebelled against him, accusing 
him of wishing to lead them to destruction ; but this revolt was 
probably caused by the favor shown by him to the Carians and 
Ionians. Amasis placed himself at the head of the rebels, con- 
quered the king, and possessed himself of the throne. By 
Herodotus he is depicted as a humorous monarch, who, how- 
ever, did not always maintain the dignity of the throne. From 
a very humble station he had raised himself to royalty by 
ability, astuteness, and intelligence, and he exhibited in all 
other relations the same keen understanding. In the morning 
he held his court of judicature, and listened to the complaints 
of the people; but in the afternoon, feasted and surrendered 
himself to pleasure. To his friends, who blamed him on this 
account, and told him that he ought to give the whole day 
to business, he made answer : " If the bow is constantly on the 
stretch, it becomes useless or breaks." As the Egyptians 
thought less of him on account of his mean descent, he had 
a golden basin — used for washing the feet — made into the im- 
age of a god in high honor among the Egyptians; this he 
meant as a symbol of his own elevation. Herodotus relates, 
moreover, that he indulged in excesses as a private man, dissi- 
pated the whole of his property, and then betook himself to 
stealing. This contrast of a vulgar soul and a keen intellect 
is characteristic in an Egyptian king. 

Amasis drew down upon him the ill-will of King Cambyses. 
Cyrus desired an oculist from the Egyptians ; for at that time 
the Egyptian oculists were very famous, their skill having 
been called out by the numerous eye-diseases prevalent in 
Egypt. This oculist, to revenge himself for having been sent 
out of the country, advised Cambyses to ask for the daughter 
of Amasis in marriage ; knowing well that Amasis would either 

be rendered unhappy by giving her to him, or on ?ae othec 
Vol. 23 J— Classics 


hand, incur the wrath of Cambyses by refusing. Amasis would 
not give his daughter to Cambyses, because the latter desired 
her as an inferior wife (for his lawful spouse must be a Per- 
sian) ; but sent him, under the name of his own daughter, that 
of Apries, who afterwards discovered her real name to Cam- 
byses. The latter was so incensed at the deception, that he led 
an expedition against Egypt, conquered that country, and 
united it with the Persian Empire. 

As to the Egyptian Spirit, it deserves mention here, that the 
Elians in Herodotus's narrative call the Egyptians the wisest 
of mankind. It also surprises us to find among them, in the 
vicinity of African stupidity, reflective intelligence, a thor- 
oughly rational organization characterizing all institutions, and 
most astonishing works of art. The Egyptians were, like the 
Hindoos, divided into castes, and the children always continued 
the trade and business of their parents. On this account, also, 
the Mechanical and Technical in the arts was so much devel- 
oped here; while the hereditary transmission of occupations 
did not produce the same disadvantageous results in the char- 
acter of the Egyptians as in India. Herodotus mentions the 
seven following castes : the priests, the warriors, the neatherds, 
the swineherds, the merchants (or trading population gener- 
ally), the interpreters — who seem only at a later date to have 
constituted a separate class — and, lastly, the seafaring class. 
Agriculturists are not named here, probably because agriculture 
was the occupation of several castes, as, e.g., the warriors, to 
whom a portion of the land was given. Diodorus and Strabo 
give a different account of these caste-divisions. Only priests, 
warriors, herdsmen, agriculturists, and artificers are mentioned, 
to which latter, perhaps, tradesmen also belong. Herodotus 
says of the priests, that they in particular received arable land, 
and had it cultivated for rent ; for the land generally was in 
the possession of the priests, warriors, and kings. Joseph was 
a minister of the king, according to Holy Scripture, and con- 
trived to make him master of all landed property. But the 
several occupations did not remain so stereotyped as among the 
Hindoos ; for we find the Israelites, who were originally herds- 
men, employed also as manual laborers : and there was a king 
— as stated above — who formed an army of manual laborers 
alone. The castes are not rigidly fixed, but struggle with and 
come into contact with one another-; we often find cases of 



their being broken up and in a state of rebellion. The warrior- 
caste, at one time discontented on account of their not being 
released from their abodes in the direction of Nubia, and des- 
perate at not being able to make use of their lands, betake them- 
selves to Meroe, and foreign mercenaries are introduced into 
the country. 

Of the mode of life among the Egyptians, Herodotus sup- 
plies a very detailed account, giving prominence to everything 
which appears to him to deviate from Greek manners. Thus 
the Egyptians had physicians specially devoted to particular 
diseases; the women were engaged in outdoor occupations, 
while the men remained at home to weave. In one part of 
Egypt polygamy prevailed ; in another, monogamy ; the women 
had but one garment, the men two ; they wash and bathe much, 
and undergo purification every month. All this points to a 
condition of settled peace. As to arrangements of police, the 
law required that every Egyptian should present himself, at a 
time appointed, before the superintendent under whom he lived, 
and state from what resources he obtained his livelihood. If 
he could not refer to any, he was punished with death. This 
law, however, was of no earlier date than Amasis. The greatest 
care, moreover, was observed in the division of the arable land, 
as also in planning canals and dikes ; under Sabaco, the Ethi- 
opian king, says Herodotus, many cities were elevated by dikes. 

The business of courts of justice was administered with very 
great care. They consisted of thirty judges nominated by the 
district, and who chose their own president. Pleadings were 
conducted in writing, and proceeded as far as the " rejoinder." 
Diodorus thinks this plan very effectual, in obviating the per- 
verting influence of forensic oratory, and of the sympathy of 
the judges. The latter pronounced sentence silently, and in a 
hieroglyphical manner. Herodotus says, that they had a sym- 
bol of truth on their breasts, and turned it towards that side 
in whose favor the cause was decided, or adorned the victorious 
party with it. The king himself had to take part in judicial 
business every day. Theft, we are told, was forbidden; but 
the law commanded that thieves should inform against them- 
selves. If they did so, they were not punished, but, on the 
contrary, were allowed to keep a fourth part of what they had 
stolen. This perhaps was designed to excite and keep in exer- 
cise that cunning for which the Egyptians were so celebrated. 


The intelligence displayed in their legislative economy, ap- 
pears characteristic of the Egyptians. This intelligence, which 
manifests itself in the practical, we also recognize in the pro- 
ductions of art and science. The Egyptians are reported to 
have divided the year into twelve months, and each month into 
thirty days. At the end of the year they intercalated five addi- 
tional days, and Herodotus says that their arrangement was 
better than that of the Greeks. The intelligence of the Egyp- 
tians especially strikes us in the department of mechanics. 
Their vast edifices — such as no other nation has to exhibit, 
and which excel all others in solidity and size — sufficiently 
prove their artistic skill ; to whose cultivation they could largely 
devote themselves, because the inferior castes did not trouble 
themselves with political matters. Diodorus Siculus says, that 
Egypt was the only country in which the citizens did not 
trouble themselves about the state, but gave their whole atten- 
tion to their private business. Greeks and Romans must have 
been especially astonished at such a state of things. 

On account of its judicious economy, Egypt was regarded 
by the ancients as the pattern of a morally regulated condition 
of things — as an ideal such as Pythagoras realized in a limited 
select society, and Plato sketched on a larger scale. But in such 
ideals no account is taken of passion. A plan of society that 
is to be adopted and acted upon, as an absolutely complete one 
— in which everything has been considered, and especially the 
education and habituation to it, necessary to its becoming a 
second nature — is altogether opposed to the nature of Spirit, 
which makes contemporary life the object on which it acts; 
itself being the infinite impulse of activity to alter its forms. 
This impulse also expressed itself in Egypt in a peculiar way. 
It would appear at first as if a condition of things so regular, 
so determinate in every particular, contained nothing that had 
a peculiarity entirely its own. The introduction of a religious 
element would seem to be an affair of no critical moment, pro- 
vided the higher necessities of men were satisfied ; we should 
in fact rather expect that it would be introduced in a peaceful 
way and in accordance with the moral arrangement of things 
already mentioned. But in contemplating the Religion of the 
Egyptians, we are surprised by the strangest and most wonder- 
ful phenomena, and perceive that this calm order of things, 
bound fast by legislative enactment, is not like that of the 


Chinese, but that we have here to do with a Spirit entirely 
different — one full of stirring and urgent impulses. We have 
here the African element, in combination with Oriental massive- 
ness, transplanted to the Mediterranean Sea, that grand locale 
of the display of nationalities ; but in such a manner, that here 
there is no connection with foreign nations — this mode of stim- 
ulating intellect appearing superfluous; for we have here a 
prodigious urgent striving within the nationality itself, and 
which within its own circle shoots out into an objective realiza- 
tion of itself in the most monstrous productions. It is that 
African imprisonment of ideas combined with the infinite im- 
pulse of the spirit to realize itself objectively, which we find 
here. But Spirit has still, as it were, an iron band around its 
forehead; so that it cannot attain to the free consciousness 
of its existence, but produces this only as the problem, the 
enigma of its being. 

The fundamental conception of that which the Egyptians 
regard as the essence of being, rests on the determinate char- 
acter of the natural world, in which they live ; and more par- 
ticularly on the determinate physical circle which the Nile and 
the Sun mark out. These two are strictly connected — the posi- 
tion of the Sun and that of the Nile ; and to the Egyptian this 
is all in all. The Nile is that which essentially determines the 
boundaries of the country; beyond the Nile-valley begins the 
desert; on the north, Egypt is shut in by the sea, and on the 
south by torrid heat. The first Arab leader that conquered 
Egypt, writes to the Caliph Omar : " Egypt is first a vast sea 
of dust ; then a sea of fresh water ; lastly, it is a great sea of 
flowers. It never rains there; towards the end of July dew 
falls, and then the Nile begins to overflow its banks, and Egypt 
resembles a sea of islands." (Herodotus compares Egypt, dur- 
ing this period, with the islands in the .^Egean.) The Nile 
leaves behind it prodigious multitudes of living creatures : then 
appear moving and creeping things innumerable; soon after, 
man begins to sow the ground, and the harvest is very abun- 
dant. Thus the existence of the Egyptian does not depend 
on the brightness of the sun, or the quantity of rain. For him, 
on the contrary, there exist only those perfectly simple condi- 
tions, which form the basis of his mode of life and its occupa- 
tions. There is a definite physical cycle, which the Nile pur- 
sues, and which is connected with the course of the Sun ; the 


latter advances, reaches its culmination, and then retrogrades. 
So also does the Nile. 

This basis of the life of the Egyptians determines more- 
over the particular tenor of their religious views. A con- 
troversy has long been waged respecting the sense of mean- 
ing of the Egyptian religion. As early as the reign of Tiberius, 
the Stoic Chaeremon, who had been in Egypt, explains it in 
a purely materialistic sense. The New Platonists take a di- 
rectly opposite view, regarding all as symbols of a spiritual 
meaning, and thus making this religion a pure Idealism. Each 
of these representations is one-sided. Natural and spiritual 
powers are regarded as most intimately united — (the free spir- 
itual import, however, has not been developed at this stage 
of thought) — but in such a way, that the extremes of the 
antithesis were united in the harshest contrast. We have 
spoken of the Nile, of the Sun, and of the vegetation depending 
upon them. This limited view of Nature gives the principle 
of the religion, and its subject-matter is primarily a history. 
The Nile and the Sun constitute the divinities, conceived under 
human forms ; and the course of nature and the mythological 
history is the same. In the winter solstice the power of the 
sun has reached its minimum, and must be born anew. Thus 
also Osiris appears as born; but he is killed by Typhon — his 
brother and enemy — the burning wind of the desert. Isis, the 
Earth — from whom the aid of the Sun and of the Nile has been 
withdrawn — yearns after him : she gathers the scattered bones 
of Osiris, and raises her lamentation for him, and all Egypt 
bewails with her the death of Osiris, in a song which Herodotus 
calls Maneros. Maneros he reports to have been the only son 
of the first king of the Egyptians, and to have died prematurely ; 
this song being also the Linus-Song of the Greeks, and the 
only song which the Egyptians have. Here again pain is re- 
garded as something divine, and the same honor is assigned 
to it here as among the Phoenicians. Hermes then embalms 
Osiris ; and his grave is shown in various places. Osiris is now 
judge of the dead, and lord of the kingdom of the Shades. 
These are the leading ideas. Osiris, the Sun, the Nile; this 
triplicity of being is united in one knot. The Sun is the symbol, 
in which Osiris and the history of that god are recognized, and 
the Nile is likewise such a symbol. The concrete Egyptian 
imagination also ascribes to Osiris and Isis the introduction] 


of agriculture, the invention of the plough, the hoe, etc. ; for 
Osiris gives not only the useful itself — the fertility of the earth 
— but, moreover, the means of making use of it. He also gives 
men laws, a civil order and a religious ritual ; he thus places 
in men's hands the means of labor, and secures its result. Osiris 
is also the symbol of the seed which is placed in the earth, and 
then springs up — as also of the course of life. Thus we find 
this heterogeneous duality — the phenomena of Nature and the 
Spiritual — woven together into one knot. 

The parallelism of the course of human life with the Nile, 
the Sun and Osiris, is not to be regarded as a mere allegory — 
as if the principle of birth, of increase in strength, of the cul- 
mination of vigor and fertility, of decline and weakness, ex- 
hibited itself in these different phenomena, in an equal or sim- 
ilar way; but in this variety imagination conceived only one 
subject, one vitality. This unity is, however, quite abstract: 
the heterogeneous element shows itself therein as pressing and 
urging, and in a confusion which sharply contrasts with Greek 
perspicuity. Osiris represents the Nile and the Sun : Sun and 
Nile are, on the other hand, symbols of human life — each one 
is signification and symbol at the same time; the symbol is 
changed into signification, and this latter becomes symbol of 
that symbol, which itself then becomes signification. None 
of these phases of existence is a Type without being at the same 
time a Signification ; each is both ; the one is explained by the 
other. Thus there arises one pregnant conception, composed 
of many conceptions, in which each fundamental nodus retains 
its individuality, so that they are not resolved into a general 
idea. The general idea — the thought itself, which forms the 
bond of analogy — does not present itself to the consciousness 
purely and freely as such, but remains concealed as an internal 
connection. We have a consolidated individuality, combining 
various phenomenal aspects; and which on the one hand is 
fanciful, on account of the combination of apparently disparate 
material, but on the other hand internally and essentially con- 
nected, because these various appearances are a particular pro- 
saic matter of fact. 

Besides this fundamental conception, we observe several spe- 
cial divinities, of whom Herodotus reckons three classes. Of 
the first he mentions eight gods ; of the second twelve ; of the 
third an indefinite number, who occupy the position towards 


the unity of Osiris of specific manifestations. In the first class, 
Fire and its use appears as Phtha, also as Knef, who is besides 
represented as the Good Genius; but the Nile itself is held 
to be that Genius, and thus abstractions are changed into con- 
crete conceptions. Ammon is regarded as a great divinity, with 
whom is associated the determination of the equinox : it is he, 
moreover, who gives oracles. But Osiris is similarly repre- 
sented as the founder of oracular manifestations. So the Pro- 
creative Power, banished by Osiris, is represented as a particu- 
lar divinity. But Osiris is himself this Procreative Power. 
Isis is the Earth, the Moon, the receptive fertility of Nature. 
As an important element in the conception Osiris, Anubis 
(Thoth) — the Egyptian Hermes — must be specially noticed. 
In human activity and invention, and in the economy of legis- 
lation, the Spiritual, as such, is embodied ; and becomes in this 
form — which is itself determinate and limited — an object of 
consciousness. Here we have the Spiritual, not as one infinite, 
independent sovereignty over nature, but as a particular ex- 
istence, side by side with the powers of Nature — characterized 
also by intrinsic particularity. And thus the Egyptians had 
also specific divinities, conceived as spiritual activities and 
forces; but partly intrinsically limited — partly [so, as] con- 
templated under natural symbols. 

The Egyptian Hermes is celebrated as exhibiting the spir- 
itual side of their theism. According to Jamblichus, the Egyp- 
tian priests immemorially prefixed to all their inventions the 
name Hermes : Eratosthenes, therefore, called his book, which 
treated of the entire science of Egypt — " Hermes." Anubis 
is called the friend and companion of Osiris. To him is as- 
cribed the invention of writing, and of science generally — of 
grammar, astronomy, mensuration, music, and medicine. It 
was he who first divided the day into twelve hours: he was 
moreover the first lawgiver, the first instructor in religious ob- 
servances and objects, and in gymnastics and orchestics; and 
it was he who discovered the olive. But, notwithstanding all 
these spiritual attributes, this divinity is something quite other 
than the God of Thought. Only particular human arts and 
inventions are associated with him. Not only so; but he 
entirely falls back into involvement in existence, and is de- 
graded under physical symbols. He is represented with a 
dog's head, as an imbruted god; and besides this mask, a 


particular natural object is bound up with the conception of 
this divinity ; for he is at the same time Sirius, the Dog- Star. 
He is thus as limited in respect of what he embodies, as 
sensuous in the positive existence ascribed to him. It may be 
incidentally remarked, that as Ideas and Nature are not distin- 
guished from each other, in the same way the arts and appli- 
ances of human life are not developed and arranged so as to 
form a rational circle of aims and means. Thus medicine — 
deliberation respecting corporeal disease — as also the whole 
range of deliberation and resolve with regard to undertakings 
in life — was subjected to the most multifarious superstition 
in the way of reliance on oracles and magic arts. Astronomy 
was also essentially Astrology, and Medicine an affair of magic, 
but more particularly of Astrology. All astrological and sym- 
pathetic superstition may be traced to Egypt. 

Egyptian Worship is chiefly Zoolatry. We have observed 
the union here presented between the Spiritual and the Natural : 
the more advanced and elevated side of this conception is the 
fact that the Egyptians, while they observed the Spiritual as 
manifested in the Nile, the Sun, and the sowing of seed, took 
the same view of the life of animals. To us Zoolatry is repul- 
sive. We may reconcile ourselves to the adoration of the 
material heaven, but the worship of brutes is alien to us ; for 
the abstract natural element seems to us more generic, and 
therefore more worthy of veneration. Yet it is certain that 
the nations who worshipped the Sun and the Stars by no means 
occupy a higher grade than those who adore brutes, but con- 
trariwise; for in the brute world the Egyptians contemplate 
a hidden and incomprehensible principle. We also, when we 
contemplate the life and action of brutes, are astonished at their 
instinct — the adaptation of their movements to the object in- 
tended — their restlessness, excitability, and liveliness ; for they 
are exceedingly quick and discerning in pursuing the ends of 
their existence, while they are at the same time silent and shut 
up within themselves. We cannot make out what it is that 
" possesses " these creatures, and cannot rely on them. A black 
tom-cat, with its glowing eyes and its now gliding, now quick 
and darting movement, has been deemed the presence of a 
malignant being — a mysterious reserved spectre: the dog, the 
canary-bird, on the contrary, appear friendly and sympathizing. 
The lower animals are the truly Incomprehensible. A man 


cannot by imagination or conception enter into the nature of 
a dog, whatever resemblance he himself might have to it; it 
remains something altogether alien to him. It is in two depart- 
ments that the so-called Incomprehensible meets us — in living 
Nature and in Spirit. But in very deed it is only in Nature 
that we have to encounter the Incomprehensible ; for the being 
manifest to itself is the essence [supplies the very definition of], 
Spirit: Spirit understands and comprehends Spirit. The ob- 
tuse self-consciousness of the Egyptians, therefore, to which 
the thought of human freedom is not yet revealed, worships 
the soul as still shut up within and dulled by the physical 
organization, and sympathizes with brute life. We find a ven- 
eration of mere vitality among other nations also: sometimes 
expressly, as among the Hindoos and all the Mongolians ; some- 
times in mere traces, as among the Jews : " Thou shalt not eat 
the blood of animals, for in it is the life of the animal." The 
Greeks and Romans also regarded birds as specially intelli- 
gent, believing that what in the human spirit was not revealed 
— the Incomprehensible and Higher — was to be found in them. 
But among the Egyptians this worship of beasts was carried to 
excess under the forms of a most stupid and non-human super- 
stition. The worship of brutes was among them a matter of 
particular and detailed arrangement : each district had a brute 
deity of its own — a cat, an ibis, a crocodile, etc. Great estab- 
lishments were provided for them ; beautiful mates were as- 
signed them ; and, like human beings, they were embalmed 
after death. The bulls were buried, but with their horns pro- 
truding above their graves ; the bulls embodying Apis had 
splendid monuments, and some of the pyramids must be looked 
upon as such. In one of those that have been opened, there 
was found in the most central apartment a beautiful alabaster 
coffin ; and on closer examination it was found that the bones 
inclosed were those of the ox. This reverence for brutes was 
often carried to the most absurd excess of severity. If a man 
killed one designedly, he was punished with death ; but even 
the undesigned killing of some animals might entail death. It 
is related, that once when a Roman in Alexandria killed a cat, 
an insurrection ensued, in which the Egyptians murdered the 
aggressor. They would let human beings perish by famine, 
rather than allow the sacred animals to be killed, or the provi- 
sion made for them trenched upon. Still more than mere vital- 


ity, the universal vis vita of productive nature was venerated 
in a Phallus- worship ; which the Greeks also adopted into the 
rites paid by them to Dionysus. With this worship the greatest 
excesses were connected. 

The brute form is, on the other hand, turned into a symbol : 
it is also partly degraded to a mere hieroglyphical sign. I refer 
here to the innumerable figures on the Egyptian monuments, 
of sparrow-hawks or falcons, dung-beetles, scarabsei, etc. It 
is not known what ideas such figures symbolized, and we can 
scarcely think that a satisfactory view of this very obscure sub- 
ject is attainable. The dung-beetle is said to be the symbol 
of generation — of the sun and its course ; the Ibis, that of the 
Nile's overflowing; birds of the hawk tribe, of prophecy — of 
the year — of pity. The strangeness of these combinations re- 
sults from the circumstance that we have not, as in our idea 
of poetical invention, a general conception embodied in an im- 
age; but, conversely, we begin with a concept in the sphere 
of sense, and imagination conducts us into the same sphere 
again. But we observe the conception liberating itself from 
the direct animal form, and the continued contemplation of it; 
and that which was only surmised and aimed at in that form, 
advancing to comprehensibility and conceivableness. The hid- 
den meaning — the Spiritual — emerges as a human face from 
the brute. The multiform sphinxes, with lions' bodies and 
virgins' heads — or as male sphinxes (avBpocfayyes) with 
beards — are evidence supporting the view, that the meaning 
of the Spiritual is the problem which the Egyptians proposed 
to themselves; as the enigma generally is not the utterance 
of something unknown, but is the challenge to discover it — ■ 
implying a wish to be revealed. But conversely, the human 
form is also disfigured by a brute face, with the view of giving 
it a specific and definite expression. The refined art of Greece 
is able to attain a specific expression through the spiritual char- 
acter given to an image in the form of beauty, and does not need 
to deform the human face in order to be understood. The 
Egyptians appended an explanation to the human forms, even 
of the gods, by means of heads and masks of brutes ; Anubis 
e.g. has a dog's head, Isis, a lion's head with bull's horns, etc. 
The priests, also, in performing their functions, are masked 
as falcons, jackals, bulls, etc.; in the same way the surgeon, 
who has taken out the bowels of the dead (represented as flee- 


ing, for he has laid sacrilegious hands on an object once hal- 
lowed by life) ; so also the embalmers and the scribes. The 
sparrow-hawk, with a human head and outspread wings, de- 
notes the soul flying through material space, in order to animate 
a new body. The Egyptian imagination also created new forms 
— combinations of different animals: serpents with bulls' and 
rams' heads, bodies of lions with rams' heads, etc. 

We thus see Egypt intellectually confined by a narrow, 
involved, close view of Nature, but breaking through this ; im- 
pelling it to self-contradiction, and proposing to itself the prob- 
lem which that contradiction implies. The [Egyptian] prin- 
ciple does not remain satisfied with its primary conditions, but 
points to that other meaning and spirit which lies concealed 
beneath the surface. 

In the view just given, we saw the Egyptian Spirit working 
itself free from natural forms. This urging, powerful Spirit, 
however, was not able to rest in the subjective conception of 
that view of things which we have now been considering, but 
was impelled to present it to external consciousness and out- 
ward vision by means of Art. — For the religion of the Eternal 
One — the Formless — Art is not only unsatisfying, but — since 
its object essentially and exclusively occupies the thought — 
something sinful. But Spirit, occupied with the contemplation 
of particular natural forms — being at the same time a striving 
and plastic Spirit — changes the direct, natural view, e.g., of 
the Nile, the Sun, etc., to images, in which Spirit has a share. 
It is, as we have seen, symbolizing Spirit ; and as such, it en- 
deavors to master these symbolizations, and to present them 
clearly before the mind. The more enigmatical and obscure I 
it is to itself, so much the more does it feel the impulse to labor 
to deliver itself from its imprisonment, and to gain a clear ob- 
jective view of itself. 

It is the distinguishing feature of the Egyptian Spirit, that 
it stands before us as this mighty taskmaster. It is not splen- 
dor, amusement, pleasure, or the like that it seeks. The force 
which urges it is the impulse of self-comprehension; and it 
has no other material or ground to work on, in order to teach 
itself what it is — to realize itself for itself — than this working 
out its thoughts in stone; and what it engraves on the stone 
are its enigmas — these hieroglyphs. They are of two kinds — 
hieroglyphs proper, designed rather to express language, and 


having reference to subjective conception ; and a class of hiero- 
glyphs of a different kind, viz. those enormous masses of archi- 
tecture and sculpture, with which Egypt is covered. While 
among other nations history consists of a series of events — as, 
e.g., that of the Romans, who century after century, lived only 
with a view to conquest, and accomplished the subjugation of 
the world — the Egyptians raised an empire equally mighty — 
of achievements in works of art, whose ruins prove their inde- 
structibility, and which are greater and more worthy of as- 
tonishment than all other works of ancient or modern time. 

Of these works I will mention no others than those devoted 
to the dead, and which especially attract our attention. These 
are the enormous excavations in the hills along the Nile at 
Thebes, whose passages and chambers are entirely filled with 
mummies — subterranean abodes as large as the largest mining 
works of our time : next, the great field of the dead in the plain 
of Sais, with its walls and vaults: thirdly, those Wonders of 
the World, the Pyramids, whose destination, though stated 
long ago by Herodotus and Diodorus, has been only recently 
expressly confirmed — to the effect, viz., that these prodigious 
crystals, with their geometrical regularity, contain dead bodies : 
and lastly, that most astonishing work, the Tombs of the Kings, 
of which one has been opened by Belzpni in modern times. 

It is of essential moment to observe, what importance this 
realm of the dead had for the Egyptian : we may thence gather 
what idea he had of man. For in the Dead, man conceives of 
man as stripped of all adventitious wrappages — as reduced to 
his essential nature. But that which a people regards as man 
in his essential characteristics, that it is itself — such is its 

In the first place, we must here cite the remarkable fact which 
Herodotus tells us, viz., that the Egyptians were the first to 
express the thought that the soul of man is immortal. But this 
proposition that the soul is immortal is intended to mean that 
it is something other than Nature — that Spirit is inherently 
independent. The ne plus ultra of blessedness among the Hin- 
doos, was the passing over into abstract unity — into Nothing- 
ness. On the other hand, subjectivity, when free, is inherently 
infinite : the Kingdom of free Spirit is therefore the Kingdom 
of the Invisible — such as Hades was conceived by the Greeks. 
This presents itself to men first as the empire of death — to the 
Egyptians as the Realm of the Dead. 


The idea that Spirit is immortal, involves this — that the 
human individual inherently possesses infinite value. The 
merely Natural appears limited — absolutely dependent upon 
something other than itself — and has its existence in that other; 
but Immortality involves the inherent infinitude of Spirit. This 
idea is first found among the Egyptians. But it must be added, 
that the soul was known to the Egyptians previously only as 
an atom — that is, as something concrete and particular. For 
with that view is immediately connected the notion of Metem- 
psychosis — the idea that the soul of man may also become the 
tenant of the body of a brute. Aristotle too speaks of this idea, 
and despatches it in few words. Every subject, he says, has 
its particular organs, for its peculiar mode of action: so the 
smith, the carpenter, each for his own craft. In like manner 
the human soul has its peculiar organs, and the body of a brute 
cannot be its domicile. Pythagoras adopted the doctrine of 
Metempsychosis; but it could not find much support among 
the Greeks, who held rather to the concrete. The Hindoos 
have also an indistinct conception of this doctrine, inasmuch 
as with them the final attainment is absorption in the universal 
Substance. But with the Egyptians the Soul — the Spirit — is, 
at any rate, an affirmative being, although only abstractedly af- 
firmative. The period occupied by the soul's migrations was 
fixed at three thousand years; they affirmed, however, that 
a soul which had remained faithful to Osiris, was not subject 
to such a degradation — for such they deem it. 

It is well known that the Egyptians embalmed their dead; 
and thus imparted such a degree of permanence, that they have 
been preserved even to the present day, and may continue as 
they are for many centuries to come. This indeed seems incon- 
sistent with their idea of immortality; for if the soul has an 
independent existence, the permanence of the body seems a 
matter of indifference. But on the other hand it may be said, 
that if the soul is recognized as a permanent existence, honor 
should be shown to the body, as its former abode. The Parsees 
lay the bodies of the dead in exposed places to be devoured by 
birds ; but among them the soul is regarded as passing forth 
into universal existence. Where the soul is supposed to enjoy 
continued existence, the body must also be considered to hav? 
some kind of connection with this continuance. Among us, 
indeed, the doctrine of the Immortality of the Soul assumes 


the higher form : Spirit is in and for itself eternal ; its destiny 
is eternal blessedness. — The Egyptians made their dead into 
mummies ; and did not occupy themselves further with them ; 
no honor was paid them beyond this. Herodotus relates of the 
Egyptians, that when any person died, the women went about 
loudly lamenting ; but the idea of Immortality is not regarded 
in the light of a consolation, as among us. 

From what was said above, respecting the works for the 
Dead, it is evident that the Egyptians, and especially their 
kings, made it the business of their life to build their sepulchre, 
and to give their bodies a permanent abode. It is remarkable 
that what had been needed for the business of life, was buried 
with the dead. Thus the craftsman had his tools : designs on 
the coffin show the occupation to which the deceased had de- 
voted himself; so that we are able to become acquainted with 
him in all the minutiae of his condition and employment. Many 
mummies have been found with "a roll of papyrus under their 
arm, and this was formerly regarded as a remarkable treasure. 
But these rolls contain only various representations of the pur- 
suits of life — together with writings in the Demotic character. 
They have been deciphered, and the discovery has been made, 
that they are all deeds of purchase, relating to pieces of ground 
and the like ; in which everything is most minutely recorded — 
even the duties that had to be paid to the royal chancery on the 
occasion. What, therefore, a person bought during his life, is 
made to accompany him — in the shape of a legal document — 
in death. In this monumental way we are made acquainted 
with the private life of the Egyptians, as with that of the 
Romans through the ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum. 

After the death of an Egyptian, judgment was passed upon 
him. — One of the principal representations on the sarcophagi 
is this judicial process in the realm of the dead. Osiris — with 
Isis behind him — appears, holding a balance, while before him 
stands the soul of the deceased. But judgment was passed on 
the dead by the living themselves ; and that not merely in the 
case of private persons, but even of kings. The tomb of a 
certain king has been discovered — very large, and elaborate in 
its architecture — in whose hieroglyphs the name of the principal 
person is obliterated, while in the bas-reliefs and pictorial de- 
signs the chief figure is erased. This has been explained to 
import that the honor of being thus immortalized, was refused 
this king by the sentence of the Court of the Dead. 


If Death thus haunted the minds of the Egyptians during 
life, it might be supposed that their disposition was melancholy. 
But the thought of death by no means occasioned depression. 
At banquets they had representations of the dead (as Herodo- 
tus relates), with the admonition: "Eat and drink — such a 
one wilt thou become, when thou art dead." Death was thus 
to them rather a call to enjoy Life. Osiris himself dies, and 
goes down into the realm of death, according to the above-men- 
tioned Egyptian myth. In many places in Egypt, the sacred 
grave of Osiris was exhibited. But he was also represented as 
president of the Kingdom of the Invisible Sphere, and as judge 
of the dead in it; later on, Serapis exercised this function in 
his place. Of Anubis-Hermes the myth says, that he embalmed 
the body of Osiris: this Anubis sustained also the office of 
leader of the souls of the dead ; and in the pictorial represen- 
tations he stands, with a writing tablet in his hand, by the side 
of Osiris. The reception of the dead into the Kingdom of 
Osiris had also a profounder import, viz., that the individual 
was united with Osiris. On the lids of the sarcophagi, there- 
fore, the defunct is represented as having himself become 
Osiris; and in deciphering the hieroglyphs, the idea has 
been suggested that the kings are called gods. The human and 
the divine are thus exhibited as united. 

If, in conclusion, we combine what has been said here of the 
peculiarities of the Egyptian Spirit in all its aspects, its per- 
vading principle is found to be, that the two elements of reality 
— Spirit sunk in Nature, and the impulse to liberate it — are 
here held together inharmoniously as contending elements. We 
behold the antithesis of Nature and Spirit — not the primary 
Immediate Unity [as in the less advanced nations], nor the 
Concrete Unity, where Nature is posited only as a basis for 
the manifestation of Spirit [as in the more advanced] ; in con- 
trast with the first and second of these Unities, the Egyptian 
Unity — combining contradictory elements — occupies a middle 
place. The two sides of this unity are held in abstract inde- 
pendence of each other, and their veritable union presented 
only as a problem. We have, therefore, on the one side, pro- 
digious confusion and limitation to the particular; barbarous 
sensuality with African hardness, Zoolatry, and sensual enjoy- 
ment. It is stated that, in a public market-place, sodomy was 
committed by a woman with a goat. Juvenal relates that hu- 



man flesh was eaten and human blood drunk out of revenge. 
The other side is the struggle of Spirit for liberation — fancy 
displayed in the forms created by art, together with the ab- 
stract understanding shown in the mechanical labors connected 
with their production. The same intelligence — the power of 
altering the form of individual existences, and that steadfast 
thoughtfulness which can rise above mere phenomena — shows 
itself in their police and the mechanism of the State, in agri- 
cultural economy, etc. ; and the contrast to this is the severity 
with which their customs bind them, and the superstition to 
which humanity among them is inexorably subject. With a 
clear understanding of the present, is connected the highest 
degree of impulsiveness, daring and turbulence. These feat- 
ures are combined in the stories which Herodotus relates to 
us of the Egyptians. They much resemble the tales of the 
Thousand and One Nights; and although these have Bagdad 
as the locality of their narration, their origin is no more limited 
to this luxurious court, than to the Arabian people, but must 
be partly traced to Egypt — as Von Hammer also thinks. The 
Arabian world is quite other than the fanciful and enchanted 
region there described ; it has much more simple passions and 
interests. Love, Martial Daring, the Horse, the Sword, are the 
darling subjects of the poetry peculiar to the Arabians. 

Transition to the Greek World 

The Egyptian Spirit has shown itself to us as in all respects 
shut up within the limits of particular conceptions, and, as it 
were, imbruted in them; but likewise stirring itself withir 
these limits — passing restlessly from one particular form int 
another. This Spirit never rises to the Universal and Higher, 
for it seems to be blind to that ; nor does it ever withdraw into 
itself: yet it symbolizes freely and boldly with particular ex- 
istence, and has already mastered it. All that is now required 
is to posit that particular existence — which contains the germ 
of ideality — as ideal, and to comprehend Universality itself, 
which is already potentially liberated from the particulars in- 
volving it.* It is the free, joyful Spirit of Greece that accom- 
plishes this, arM makes this its starting-point. An Egyptian 

* Abstractions were to take the place but just fall short of the ability to com- 
of analogies. The power to connect par- prehend the general idea which links 
ticular conceptions as analogical, does them.— Ed. 


priest is reported to have said, that the Greeks remain eternally 
children. We may say, on the contrary, that the Egyptians are 
vigorous boys, eager for self-comprehension, who require noth- 
ing but clear understanding of themselves in an ideal form, in 
order to become Young Men. In the Oriental Spirit there re- 
mains as a basis the massive substantiality of Spirit immersed 
in Nature. To the Egyptian Spirit it has become impossible — 
though it is still involved in infinite embarrassment — to remain 
contented with that. The rugged African nature disintegrated 
that primitive Unity, and lighted upon the problem whose solu- 
tion is Free Spirit. 

That the Spirit of the Egyptians presented itself to their con- 
sciousness in the form of a problem, is evident from the cele- 
brated inscription in the sanctuary of the Goddess Neith at 
Sais : " / am that which is, that which ivas, and that which 
will be; no one has lifted my veil." This inscription indicates 
the principle of the Egyptian Spirit; though the opinion has 
often been entertained, that its purport applies to all times. 
Proclus supplies the addition : " The fruit which I have pro- 
duced is Helios." That which is clear to itself is, therefore, 
the result of, and the solution of, the problem in question. This 
lucidity is Spirit — the Son of Neith the concealed night-loving 
divinity. In the Egyptian Neith, Truth is still a problem. The 
Greek Apollo is its solution ; his utterance is : " Man, know 
thyself." In this dictum is not intended a self-recognition that 
regards the specialities of one's own weaknesses and defects: 
it is not the individual that is admonished to become acquainted 
with his idiosyncrasy, but humanity in general is summoned to 
self-knowledge. This mandate was given for the Greeks, and 
in the Greek Spirit humanity exhibits itself in its clear and 
developed condition. Wonderfully, then, must the Greek legend 
surprise us, which relates, that the Sphinx — the great Egyptian 
symbol — appeared in Thebes, uttering the words : " What is 
that which in the morning goes on four legs, at midday on 
two, and in the evening on three ? " CEdipus, giving the solu- 
tion, Man, precipitated the Sphinx from the rock. The solution 
and liberation of that Oriental Spirit, which in Egypt had ad- 
anced so far as to propose the problem, is certainly this: that 
the Inner Being [the Essence] of Nature is Thought, which 
has its existence only in the human consciousness. But that 
time'honored antique solution given by CEdipus — who thus 


shows himself possessed of knowledge — is connected with a 
dire ignorance of the character of his own actions. The rise 
of spiritual illumination in the old royal house is disparaged 
by connection with abominations, the result of ignorance ; and 
that primeval royalty must — in order to attain true knowledge 
and moral clearness — first be brought into shapely form, and 
be harmonized with the Spirit of the Beautiful, by civil laws 
and political freedom. 

The inward or ideal transition, from Egypt to Greece is as 
just exhibited. But Egypt became a province of the great 
Persian kingdom, and the historical transition takes place when 
the Persian world comes in contact with the Greek. Here, for 
the first time, an historical transition meets us, viz. in the fall 
of an empire. China and India, as already mentioned, have 
remained — Persia has not. The transition to Greece is, in- 
deed, internal; but here it shows itself also externally, as a 
transmission of sovereignty — an occurrence which from this- 
time forward is ever and anon repeated. For the Greeks sur- 
render the sceptre of dominion and of civilization to the Ro- 
mans, and the Romans are subdued by the Germans. If we 
examine this fact of transition more closely, the question sug- 
gests itself — for example, in this first case of the kind, viz- 
Persia — why it sank, while China and India remain. In the 
first place we must here banish from our minds the prejudice 
in favor of duration, as if it had any advantage as compared 
with transience: the imperishable mountains are not superior 
to the quickly dismantled rose exhaling its life in fragrance. In 
Persia begins the principle of Free Spirit as contrasted with 
imprisonment in Nature; mere natural existence, therefore, 
loses its bloom, and fades away. The principle of separation 
from Nature is found in the Persian Empire, which, therefore, 
occupies a higher grade than those worlds immersed in the 
Natural. The necessity of advance has been thereby pro- 
claimed. Spirit has disclosed its existence, and must com- 
plete its development. It is only when dead that the Chinese 
is held in reverence. The Hindoo kills himself — becomes ab- 
sorbed in Brahm — undergoes a living death in the condition 
of perfect unconsciousness — or is a present god in virtue of 
his birth. Here we have no change ; no advance is admissible, 
for progress is only possible through the recognition of the 
independence of Spirit. With the " Light " of the Persians 


begins a spiritual view of things, and here Spirit bids adieu 
to Nature. It is here, then, that we first find (as occasion called 
us to notice above) that the objective world remains free — 
that the nations are not enslaved, but are left in possession of 
their wealth, their political constitution, and their religion. And, 
indeed, this is the side on which Persia itself shows weakness 
as compared with Greece. For we see that the Persians could 
erect no empire possessing complete organization; that they 
could not " inform " the conquered lands with their principle, 
and were unable to make them into a harmonious Whole, but 
were obliged to be content with an aggregate of the most di- 
verse individualities. Among these nations the Persians se- 
cured no inward recognition of the legitimacy of their rule; 
they could not establish their legal principles of enactments, 
and in organizing their dominion, they only considered them- 
selves, not the whole extent of their empire. Thus, as Persia 
did not constitute, politically, one Spirit, it appeared weak in 
contrast with Greece. It was not the effeminacy of the Per- 
sians (although, perhaps, Babylon infused an enervating ele- 
ment) that ruined them, but the unwieldy, unorganized char- 
acter of their host, as matched against Greek organization ; i.e., 
the superior principle overcame the inferior. The abstract 
principle of the Persians displayed its defectiveness as an un- 
organized, incompacted union of disparate contradictories; in 
which the Persian doctrine of Light stood side by side with 
Syrian voluptuousness and luxury, with the activity and cour- 
age of the sea-braving Phoenicians, the abstraction of pure 
Thought in the Jewish Religion, and the mental unrest of 
Egypt ; — an aggregate of elements, which awaited their idealiz- 
ation, and could receive it only in free Individuality. The 
Greeks must be looked upon as the people in whom these ele- 
ments interpenetrated each other: Spirit became introspective, 
triumphed over particularity, and thereby emancipated itself. 



AMONG the Greeks we * ee l ourselves immediately at 
home, for we are in the region of Spirit ; and though 
the origin of the nation, as also its philological pecu- 
liarities, may be traced farther — even to India — the proper 
Emergence, the true Palingenesis of Spirit must be looked for 
in Greece first. At an earlier stage I compared the Greek 
world with the period of adolescence ; not, indeed, in that sense, 
that youth bears within it a serious, anticipative destiny, and 
consequently by the very conditions of its culture urges towards 
an ulterior aim — presenting thus an inherently incomplete and 
immature form, and being then most defective when it would 
deem itself perfect — but in that sense, that youth does not yet 
present the activity of work, does not yet exert itself for a 
definite intelligent aim — but rather exhibits a concrete fresh- 
ness of the soul's life. It appears in the sensuous, actual world, 
as Incarnate Spirit and Spiritualized Sense — in a Unity which 
owed its origin to Spirit. Greece presents to us the cheerful 
aspect of youthful freshness, of Spiritual vitality. It is here 
first that advancing Spirit makes itself the content of its voli- 
tion and its knowledge ; but in such a way that State, Family, 
Law, Religion, are at the same time objects aimed at by indi- 
viduality, while the latter is individuality only in virtue of 
those aims. The [full-grown] man, on the other hand, devotes 
his life to labor for an objective aim; which he pursues con- 
sistently, even at the cost of his individuality. 

The highest form that floated before Greek imagination was 
Achilles, the Son of the Poet, the Homeric Youth of the Trojan 
War. Homer is the element in which the Greek world lives, 
as man does in the air. The Greek life is a truly youthful 
achievement. Achilles, the ideal youth, of poetry, commenced 
it: Alexander the Great, the ideal youth of reality, concluded 



it. Both appear in contest with Asia. Achilles, as the principal 
figure in the national expedition of the Greeks against Troy, 
does not stand at its head, but is subject to the Chief of Chiefs ; 
he cannot be made the leader without becoming a fantastic un- 
tenable conception. On the contrary, the second youth, Alex- 
ander — the freest and finest individuality that the real world 
has ever produced — advances to the head of this youthful life 
that has now perfected itself, and accomplishes the revenge 
against Asia. 

We have, then, to distinguish three periods in Greek history : 
the first, that of the growth of real Individuality ; the second, 
that of its independence and prosperity in external conquest 
(through contact with the previous World-historical people) ; 
and the third, the period of its decline and fall, in its encounter 
with the succeeding organ of World-History. The period from 
its origin to its internal completeness (that which enables a 
people to make head against its predecessor) includes its pri- 
mary culture. If the nation has a basis — such as the Greek 
world has in the Oriental — a foreign culture enters as an ele- 
ment into its primary condition, and it has a double culture, 
one orignal, the other of foreign suggestion. The uniting of 
these two elements constitutes its training ; and the first period 
ends with the combination of its forces to produce its real and 
proper vigor, which then turns against the very element that 
had been its basis. The second period is that of victory and 
prosperity. But while the nation directs its energies outwards, 
it becomes unfaithful to its principles at home, and internal 
dissension follows upon the ceasing of the external excitement. 
In Art and Science, too, this shows itself in the separation of 
the Ideal from the Real. Here is the point of decline. The 
third period is that of ruin, through contact with the nation 
that embodies a higher Spirit. The same process, it may be 
stated once for all, will meet us in the life of every world - 
historical people. 



GREECE is [that form of] the Substantial [i.e. of Moral 
and Intellectual Principle], which is a't the same time 
individual. The Universal [the Abstract], as such, is 
overcome ; * the submersion in Nature no longer exists, and 
consentaneously the unwieldy character of geographical rela- 
tions has also vanished. The country now under consideration 
is a section of territory spreading itself in various forms 
through the sea — a multitude of islands, and a continent which 
itself exhibits insular features. The Peloponnesus is connected 
with the continent only by a narrow isthmus: the whole of 
Greece is indented by bays in numberless shapes. The partition 
into small divisions of territory is the universal characteristic, 
while at the same time, the relationship and connection between 
them is facilitated by the sea. We find here mountains, plains, 
valleys, and streams of limited extent : no great river, no abso- 
lute Valley-Plain presents itself ; but the ground is diversified 
by mountains and rivers in such a way as to allow no promi- 
nence to a single massive feature. We see no such display of 
physical grandeur as is exhibited in the East — no stream such 
as the Ganges, the Indus, etc., on whose plains a race delivered 
over to monotony is stimulated to no change, be^.use its hori- 
zon always exhibits one unvarying form. O 'v contrary, that 
divided and multiform character everywhere prevails which 
perfectly corresponds with the varied life of Greek races and 
the versatility of the Greek Spirit. 

This is the elementary character of the Spirit of the Greeks, 
implying the origination of their culture from independent in- 
dividualities ; — a condition in which individuals take their own 
ground, and are not, from the very beginning, patriarchally 
united by a bond of Nature, but realize a union through some 

* That is, blind obedience to moral re- personal conviction or inclination, as 

quirements— to principle abstracted from among the Chinese. — Ed. 



other medium — through Law and Custom having the sanction 
of Spirit. For beyond all other nations that of Greece attained 
its form by growth. At the origin of their national unity, sepa- 
ration as a generic feature — inherent distinctness of character 
— is the chief point that has to be considered. The first phase 
in the subjugation of this, constitutes the primary period of 
Greek culture ; and only through such distinctness of character, 
and such a subjugation of it, was the beautiful free Greek 
Spirit produced. Of this principle we must have a clear con- 
ception. It is a superficial and absurd idea that such a beautiful 
and truly free life can be produced by a process so incomplex 
as the development of a race keeping within the limits of blood- 
relationship and friendship. Even the plant, which supplies 
the nearest analogy to such a calm, homogeneous unfolding, 
lives and grows only by means of the antithetic activities of 
light, air, and water. The only real antithesis that Spirit can 
have, is itself spiritual : viz., its inherent heterogeneity, through 
which alone it acquires the power of realizing itself as Spirit. 
The history of Greece exhibits at its commencement this inter- 
change and mixture of partly homesprung, partly quite foreign 
stocks ; and it was Attica itself — whose people was destined to 
attain the acme of Hellenic bloom — that was the asylum of the 
most various stocks and families. Every world-historical peo- 
ple, except the Asiatic kingdoms — which stands detached from 
the grand historical catena — has been formed in this way. Thus 
the Greeks, like the Romans, developed themselves from a 
colluvies — a conflux of the most various nations. Of the multi- 
tude of tribes which we meet in Greece, we cannot say which 
was the original Greek people, and which immigrated from for- 
eign lands and distant parts of the globe; for the period of 
which we speak belongs entirely to the unhistorical and obscure. 
The Pelasgi were at that time a principal race in Greece. The 
most various attempts have been made by the learned to har- 
monize the confused and contradictory account which we have 
respecting them — a hazy and obscure period being a special 
object and stimulus to erudition. Remarkable as the earliest 
centres of incipient culture are Thrace, the native land of Or- 
pheus — and Thessaly ; countries which at a later date retreated 
more or less into the background. From Phthiotis, the country 
of Achilles, proceeds the common name Hellenes — a name 
which, as Thucydides remarks, presents itself as little in Homer 


in this comprehensive sense, as the term Barbarians, from 
whom the Greeks were not yet clearly distinguished. It must 
be left to special history to trace the several tribes, and their 
transformations. In general we may assume, that the tribes 
and individuals were prone to leave their country when too 
great a population occupied it, and that consequently these 
tribes were in a migratory condition, and practised mutual 
depredation. " Even now," says the discerning Thucydides, 
" the Ozolian Locrians, the ZEtolians, and Acarnanians retain 
their ancient mode of life; the custom of carrying weapons, 
too, has maintained itself among them as a relic of their ancient 
predatory habits." Respecting the Athenians, he says, that 
they were the first who laid aside arms in time of peace. In 
such a state of things agriculture was not pursued ; the inhabi- 
tants had not only to defend themselves against freebooters, 
but also to contend with wild beasts (even in Herodotus's time 
many lions infested the banks of the Nestus and Achelous) ; 
at a later time tame cattle became especially an object of plun- 
der, and even after agriculture had become more general, men 
were still entrapped and sold for slaves. In depicting this orig- 
inal condition of Greece, Thucydides goes still further into 

Greece, then, was in this state of turbulence, insecurity, and 
rapine, and its tribes were continually migrating. 

The other element in which the national life of the Hellenes 
was versed, was the Sea. The physique of their country led 
them to this amphibious existence, and allowed them to skim 
freely over the waves, as they spread themselves freely over 
the land — not roving about like the nomad populations, nor 
torpidly vegetating like those of the river districts. Piracy, 
not trade, was the chief object of maritime occupations : and, 
as we gather from Homer, it was not yet reckoned discreditable. 
The suppression of piracy is ascribed to Minos, and Crete is 
renowned as the land where security was first enjoyed; for 
there the state of things which we meet with again in Sparta 
was early realized, viz., the establishment in power of one 
party, and the subjugation of the other, which was compelled 
to obey and work for the former. 

We have just spoken of heterogeneity as an element of the 

Greek Spirit, and it is well known that the rudiments of Greek 

civilization are connected with the advent of foreigners. This 
Vol. 23 K— Classics 


origin of their moral life the Greeks have preserved, with grate- 
ful recollection, in a form of recognition which we may call 
mythological. In their mythology we have a definite record 
of the introduction of agriculture by Triptolemus, who was 
instructed by Ceres, and of the institution of marriage, etc. 
Prometheus, whose origin is referred to the distant Caucasus, 
is celebrated as having first taught men the production and 
the use of fire. The introduction of iron was likewise of great 
importance to the Greeks; and while Homer speaks only of 
bronze, iEschylus calls iron " Scythian." The introduction of 
the olive, of the art of spinning and weaving, and the creation 
of the horse by Poseidon, belong to the same category. 

More historical than these rudiments of culture is the alleged 
arrival of foreigners; tradition tells us how the various states 
were founded by such foreigners. Thus, Athens owes its 
origin to Cecrops, an Egyptian, whose history, however, is in- 
volved in obscurity. The race of Deucalion, the son of Pro- 
metheus, is brought into connection with the various Greek 
tribes. Pelops of Phrygia, the son of Tantalus, is also men- 
tioned; next, Danaus, from Egypt: from him descend Acris- 
ius, Danse, and Perseus. Pelops is said to have brought great 
wealth with him to the Peloponnesus, and to have acquired 
great respect and power there. Danaus settled in Argos. 
Especially important is the arrival of Cadmus, of Phoenician 
origin, with whom phonetic writing is said to have been intro- 
duced into Greece; Herodotus refers it to Phoenicia, and an- 
cient inscriptions then extant are cited to support the assertion. 
Cadmus, according to the legend, founded Thebes. 

We thus observe a colonization by civilized peoples, who 
were in advance of the Greeks in point of culture : though we 
cannot compare this colonization with that of the English in 
North America, for the latter have not been blended with the 
aborigines, but have dispossessed them ; whereas in the case 
of the settlers in Greece the adventitious and autochthonic ele- 
ments were mixed together. The date assigned to the arrival 
of these colonists is very remote — the fourteenth and fifteenth 
century before Christ. Cadmus is said to have founded Thebes 
about 1490 B.C. — a date with which the Exodus of Moses from 
Egypt (1500 B.C.) nearly coincides. Amphictyon is also men- 
tioned among the Founders of Greek institutions; he is said 
to have established at Thermopylae a union between many small 



tribes of Hellas proper and Thessaly — a combination with 
which the great Amphictyonic league is said to have originated. 

These foreigners, then, are reputed to have established fixed 
centres in Greece by the erection of fortresses and the founding 
of royal houses. In Argolis, the walls of which the ancient 
fortresses consisted, were called Cyclopian ; some of them have 
been discovered even in recent times, since, on account of their 
solidity 4 they are indestructible. 

These walls consist partly of irregular blocks, whose in- 
terstices are filled up with small stones — partly of masses of 
stones carefully fitted into each other. Such walls are those 
of Tiryns and Mycenae. Even now the gate with the lions, 
at Mycenae, can be recognized by the description of Pausanias. 
It is stated of Prcetus, who ruled in Argos, that he brought 
with him from Lycia the Cyclopes who built these walls. It 
is, however, supposed that they were erected by the ancient 
Pelasgi. To the fortresses protected by such walls the princes 
of the heroic times generally attached their dwellings. Espe- 
cially remarkable are the Treasure-houses built by them, such 
as the Treasure-house of Minyas at Orchomenus, and that of 
Atreus at Mycense. These fortresses, then, were the nuclei of 
small states ; they gave a greater security to agriculture ; they 
protected commercial intercourse against robbery. They were, 
however, as Thucydides informs us, not placed in the immedi- 
ate vicinity of the sea, on account of piracy; maritime towns 
being of later date. Thus with those royal abodes originated 
the firm establishment of society. The relation of princes to 
subjects, and to each other, we learn best from Homer. It did 
not depend on a state of things established by law, but on 
superiority in riches, possessions, martial accoutrements, per- 
sonal bravery, pre-eminence in insight and wisdom, and lastly, 
on descent and ancestry; for the princes, as heroes, were re- 
garded as of a higher race. Their subjects obeyed them, not 
as distinguished from them by conditions of Caste, nor as in 
a state of serfdom, nor in the patriarchal relation — according 
to which the chief is only the head of the tribe or family to 
which all belong — nor yet as the result of the express necessity 
for a constitutional government ; but only from the need, uni- 
versally felt, of being held together, and of obeying a ruler 
accustomed to command — without envy and ill-will towards 
him. The Prince has just so much personal authority as he 


possesses the ability to acquire and to assert; but as this 
superiority is only the individually heroic, resting on personal 
merit, it does not continue long. Thus in Homer we see the 
suitors of Penelope taking possession of the property of the 
absent Ulysses, without showing the slightest respect to his 
son. Achilles, in his inquiries about his father, when Ulysses 
descends to Hades, indicates the supposition that, as he is old, 
he will be no longer honored. Manners are still very simple: 
princes prepare their own repasts; and Ulysses labors at the 
construction of his own house. In Homer's Iliad we find a 
King of Kings, a generalissimo in the great national undertak- 
ing — but the other magnates environ him as a freely deliberat- 
ing council ; the prince is honored, but he is obliged to arrange 
everything to the satisfaction of the others ; he indulges in vio- 
lent conduct towards Achilles, but, in revenge, the latter with- 
draws from the struggle. Equally lax is the relation of the 
several chiefs to the people at large, among whom there are 
always individuals who claim attention and respect. The vari- 
ous peoples do not fight as mercenaries of the prince in his 
battles, nor as a stupid serf-like herd driven to the contest, nor 
yet in their own interest ; but as the companions of their hon- 
ored chieftain — as witnesses of his exploits, and his defenders 
in peril. A perfect resemblance to these relations is also pre- 
sented in the Greek Pantheon. Zeus is the Father of the Gods, 
but each one of them has his own will ; Zeus respects them, 
and they him : he may sometimes scold and threaten them, and 
they then allow his will to prevail or retreat grumbling; but 
they do not permit matters to come to an extremity, and Zeus 
so arranges matters on the whole — by making this concession 
to one, that to another — as to produce satisfaction. In the 
terrestrial, as well as in the Olympian world, there is, therefore, 
only a lax bond of unity maintained ; royalty has not yet become 
monarchy, for it is only in a more extensive society that the 
need of the latter is felt. 

While this state of things prevailed, and social relations were 
such as have been described, that striking and great event took 
place — the union of the whole of Greece in a national under- 
taking, viz., the Trojan War; with which began that more ex- 
tensive connection with Asia which had very important results 
for the Greeks. (The expedition of Jason to Colchis — also 
mentioned by the poets — and which bears an earlier date, was, 


as compared with the war of Troy, a very limited and isolated 
undertaking.) The occasion of that united expedition is said 
to have been the violation of the laws of hospitality by the son 
of an Asiatic prince, in carrying off the wife of his host. Aga- 
memnon assembles the princes of Greece through the power 
and influence which he possesses. Thucydides ascribes his 
authority to his hereditary sovereignty, combined with naval 
power (Horn. II. ii. 108), in which he was far superior to 
the rest. It appears, however, that the combination was ef- 
fected without external compulsion, and that the whole arma- 
ment was convened simply on the strength of individual con- 
sent. The Hellenes were then brought to act unitedly, to an 
extent of which there is no subsequent example. The result 
of their exertions was the conquest and destruction of Troy, 
though they had no design of making it a permanent possession. 
No external result, therefore, in the way of settlement ensued, 
any more than an enduring political union, as the effect of the 
uniting of the nation in the accomplishment of this single 
achievement. But the poet supplied an imperishable portraiture 
of their youth and of their national spirit, to the imagination of 
the Greek people; and the picture of this beautiful human 
heroism hovered as a directing ideal before their whole devel- 
opment and culture. So likewise, in the Middle Ages, we see 
the whole of Christendom united to attain one object — the 
conquest of the Holy Sepulchre; but, in spite of all the vic- 
tories achieved, with just as little permanent result. The Cru- 
sades are the Trojan War of newly awakened Christendom, 
waged against the simple, homogeneous clearness of Mahome- 

The royal houses perished, partly as the consequence of par- 
ticular atrocities, partly through gradual extinction. There 
was no strictly moral bond connecting them with the tribes 
which they governed. The same relative position is occupied 
by the people and the royal houses in the Greek Tragedy also. 
The people is the Chorus — passive, deedless: the heroes per- 
form the deeds, and incur the consequent responsibility. There 
is nothing in common between them; the people have no di- 
recting power, but only appeal to the gods. Such heroic per- 
sonalities as those of the princes in question, are so remarkably 
suited for subjects of dramatic art on this very account — that 
they form their resolutions independently and individually, and 


are not guided by universal laws binding on every citizen; 
their conduct and their ruin are individual. The people appears 
separated from the royal houses, and these are regarded as an 
alien body — a higher race, righting out the battles and under- 
going the penalties of their fate, for themselves alone. Roy- 
alty having performed that which it had to perform, thereby 
rendered itself superfluous. The several dynasties are the 
agents of their own destruction, or perish not as the result of 
animosity, or of struggles on the side of the people: rather 
the families of the sovereigns are left in calm enjoyment of 
their power — a proof that the democratic government which 
followed is not regarded as something absolutely diverse. How 
sharply do the annals of other times contrast with this! 

This fall of the royal houses occurs after the Trojan war, and 
many changes now present themselves. The Peloponnesus 
was conquered by the Heraclidas, who introduced a calmer state 
of things, which was not again interrupted by the incessant 
migrations of races. The history now becomes more obscure ; 
and though the several occurrences of the Trojan war are very 
circumstantially described to us, we are uncertain respecting 
the important transactions of the time immediately following, 
for a space of many centuries. No united undertaking distin- 
guishes them, unless we regard as such that of which Thucydides 
speaks, viz., the war between the Chalcidians and Eretrians in 
Euboea, in which many nations took part. The towns vegetate 
in isolation, or at most distinguish themselves by war with their 
neighbors. Yet, they enjoy prosperity in this isolated condi- 
tion, by means of trade ; a kind of progress to which their being 
rent by many party-struggles offers no opposition. In the 
same way, we observe in the Middle Ages the towns of Italy— 
which, both internally and externally, were engaged in con- 
tinual struggle — attaining so high a degree of prosperity. The 
flourishing state of the Greek towns at that time is proved, 
according to Thucydides, also by the colonies sent out in every 
direction. Thus, Athens colonized Ionia and several islands ; 
and colonies from the Peloponnesus settled in Italy and Sicily. 
Colonies, on the other hand, became relatively mother states ; 
e.g. Miletus, which founded many cities on the Propontis and 
the Black Sea. This sending out of colonies — especially during 
the period between the Trojan war and Cyrus — presents us with 
a remarkable phenomenon. It can be thus explained. In the 



several towns the people had the governmental power in their 
hands, since they gave the final decision in political affairs. In 
consequence of the long repose enjoyed by them, the population 
and the development of the community advanced rapidly ; and 
the immediate result was the amassing of great riches-, contem- 
poraneously with which fact great want and poverty make their 
appearance. Industry, in our sense, did not exist; and the 
lands were soon occupied. Nevertheless a part of the poorer 
classes would not submit to the degradations of poverty, for 
everyone felt himself a free citizen. The only expedient, there- 
fore, that remained, was colonization. In another country, 
those who suffered distress in their own, might seek a free soil, 
and gain a living as free citizens by its cultivation. Colonization 
thus became a means of maintaining some degree of equality 
among the citizens ; but this means is only a palliative, and the 
original inequality, founded on the difference of property, im- 
mediately reappears. The old passions were rekindled with 
fresh violence, and riches were soon made use of for securing 
power : thus " Tyrants " gained ascendancy in the cities of 
Greece. Thucydides says, " When Greece increased in riches, 
Tyrants arose in the cities, and the Greeks devoted themselves 
more zealously to the sea." At the time of Cyrus, the History 
of Greece acquires its peculiar interest ; we see the various states 
now displaying their particular character. This is the date, 
too, of the formation of the distinct Greek Spirit. Religion and 
political institutions are developed with it, and it is these im- 
portant phases of national life which must now occupy our 

In tracing up the rudiments of Greek culture, we first recall 
attention to the fact that the physical condition of the country 
does not exhibit such a characteristic unity, such a uniform 
mass, as to exercise a powerful influence over the inhabitants. 
On the contrary, it is diversified, and produces no decided im- 
pression. Nor have we here the unwieldy unity of a family 
or national combination ; but, in the presence of scenery and 
displays of elemental power broken up into fragmentary forms, 
men's attention is more largely directed to themselves, and to 
the extension of their immature capabilities. Thus we see the 
Greeks — divided and separated from each other — thrown back 
upon their inner spirit and personal energy, yet at the same 
time most variously excited and cautiously circumspect. We 



behold them quite undetermined and irresolute in the presence 
of Nature, dependent on its contingencies, and listening anx- 
iously to each signal from the external world; but, on the 
other hand, intelligently taking cognizance of and appropriat- 
ing that outward existence, and showing boldness and inde- 
pendent vigor in contending with it. These are the simple 
elements of their culture and religion. In tracing up their mytho- 
logical conceptions, we find natural objects forming the basis 
— not en masse, however ; only in dissevered forms. The Diana 
of Ephesus (that is, Nature as the universal Mother), the Cyb- 
ele and Astarte of Syria — such comprehensive conceptions re- 
mained Asiatic, and were not transmitted to Greece. For the 
Greeks only watch the objects of Nature, and form surmises 
respecting them ; inquiring, in the depth of their souls, for the 
hidden meaning. According to Aristotle's dictum, that Philos- 
ophy proceeds from Wonder, the Greek view of Nature also 
proceeds from wonder of this kind. Not that in their experi- 
ence, Spirit meets something extraordinary, which it compares 
with the common order of things ; for the intelligent view of a 
regular course of Nature, and the reference of phenomena to 
that standard, do not yet present themselves; but the Greek 
Spirit was excited to wonder at the Natural in Nature. It does 
not maintain the position of stupid indifference to it as some- 
thing existing, and there an end of it ; but regards it as some- 
thing in the first instance foreign, in which, however, it has a 
presentiment of confidence, and the belief that it bears some- 
thing within it which is friendly to the human Spirit, and to 
which it may be permitted to sustain a positive relation. This 
Wonder, and this Presentiment, are here the fundamental cate- 
gories ; though the Hellenes did not content themselves with 
these moods of feelings, but projected the hidden meaning, 
which was the subject of the surmise, into a distinct conception 
as an object of consciousness. The Natural holds its place in 
their minds only after undergoing some transformation by 
Spirit — not immediately. Man regards Nature only as an ex- 
citement to his faculties, and only the Spiritual which he has 
evolved from it can have any influence over him. Nor is this 
commencement of the Spiritual apprehension of Nature to be 
regarded as an explanation suggested by us; it meets us in a 
multitude of conceptions formed by the Greeks themselves. 
The position of curious surmise, of attentive eagerness to catch 


the meaning of Nature, is indicated to us in the comprehensive 
idea of Pan. To the Greeks Pan did not represent the objective 
Whole, but that indefinite neutral ground which involves the 
element of the subjective; he embodies that thrill which per- 
vades us in the silence of the forests ; he was, therefore, espe- 
cially worshipped in sylvan Arcadia : (a " panic terror " is the 
common expression for a groundless fright). Pan, this thrill- 
exciting being, is also represented as playing on the flute ; we 
have not the bare internal presentiment, for Pan makes himself 
audible on the seven-reeded pipe. In what has been stated we 
have, on the one hand, the Indefinite, which, however, holds 
communication with man ; on the other hand the fact, that such 
communication is only a subjective imagining — an explana- 
tion furnished by the percipient himself. On the same principle 
the Greeks listened to the murmuring of the fountains, and 
asked what might be thereby signified; but the signification 
which they were led to attach to it was not the objective mean- 
ing of the fountain, but the subjective — that of the subject itself, 
which further exalts the Naiad to a Muse. The Naiads, or 
Fountains, are the external, objective origin of the Muses. Yet 
the immortal songs of the Muses are not that which is heard in 
the murmuring of the fountains ; they are the productions of 
the thoughtfully listening Spirit — creative while observant. The 
interpretation and explanation of Nature and its transforma- 
tions — the indication of their sense and import — is the act of 
the subjective Spirit ; and to this the Greeks attached the name 
fiavTCLa. The general idea which this embodies, is the form in 
which man realizes his relationship to Nature. Mavreia has 
reference both to the matter of the exposition and to the ex- 
pounder who divines the weighty import in question. Plato 
speaks of it in reference to dreams, and to that delirium into 
which men fall during sickness ; an interpreter, (iavTi%is wanted 
to explain these dreams and this delirium. That Nature an- 
swered the questions which the Greek put to her, is in this con- 
verse sense true, that he obtained an answer to the questions 
of Nature from his own Spirit. The insight of the Seer becomes 
thereby purely poetical ; Spirit supplies the signification which 
the natural image expresses. Everywhere the Greeks desired 
a clear presentation and interpretation of the Natural. Homer 
tells us, in the last book of the Odyssey, that while the Greeks 
were overwhelmed with sorrow for Achilles, a violent agitation 


came over the sea : the Greeks were on the point of dispersing 
in terror, when the experienced Nestor arose and interpreted 
the phenomenon to them. Thetis, he said, was coming, with 
her nymphs, to lament for the death of her son. When a 
pestilence broke out in the camp of the Greeks, the Priest 
Calchas explained that Apollo was incensed at their not having 
restored the daughter of his priest Chryses when a ransom had 
been offered. The Oracle was originally interpreted exactly 
in this way. The oldest Oracle was at Dodona (in the district 
of the modern Janina). Herodotus says that the first priestesses 
of the temple there, were from Egypt ; yet this temple is stated 
to be an ancient Greek one. The rustling of the leaves of the 
sacred oaks was the form of prognostication there. Bowls of 
metal were also suspended in the grove. But the sounds of 
the bowls dashing against each other were quite indefinite, and 
had no objective sense ; the sense — the signification — was im- 
parted to the sounds only by the human beings who heard them. 
Thus also the Delphic priestesses, in a senseless, distracted 
state — in the intoxication of enthusiasm (jiavia) — uttered unin- 
telligible sounds ; and it was the /juavra who gave to these utter- 
ances a definite meaning. In the cave of Trophonius the noise 
of subterranean waters was heard, and apparitions were seen : 
but these indefinite phenomena acquired a meaning only 
through the interpreting, comprehending Spirit. It must also 
be observed, that these excitements of Spirit are in the first in- 
stance external, natural impulses. Succeeding them are internal 
changes taking place in the human being himself — such as 
dreams, or the delirium of the Delphic priestess — which require 
to be made intelligible by the jicLvtis. At the commencement of 
the Iliad, Achilles is excited against Agamemnon, and is on the 
point of drawing his sword ; but on a sudden he checks the 
movement of his arm, and recollects himself in his wrath, reflect- 
ing on his relation to Agamemnon. The Poet explains this by 
saying that it was Pallas-Athene (Wisdom or Consideration) 
that restrained him. When Ulysses among the Phseacians has 
thrown his discus farther than the rest, and one of the Phseacians 
shows a friendly disposition towards him, the Poet recognizes 
in him Pallas-Athene. Such an explanation denotes the percep- 
tion of the inner meaning, the sense, the underlying truth; and 
the poets were in this way the teachers of the Greeks — especially 
Homer. Mavreia in fact is Poesy — not a capricious indul- 



gence of fancy, but an imagination which introduces the Spirit- 
ual into the Natural — in short a richly intelligent perception. 
The Greek Spirit, on the whole, therefore, is free from supersti- 
tion, since it changes the sensuous into the sensible — the Intel- 
lectual — so that [oracular] decisions are derived from Spirit; 
although superstition comes in again from another quarter, as 
will be observed when impulsions from another source than the ■ 
Spiritual, are allowed to tell upon opinion and action. 

But the stimuli that operated on the Spirit of the Greeks are 
not to be limited to these objective and subjective incitements. 
The traditional element derived from foreign countries, the cul- 
ture, the divinities and ritual observances transmitted to them 
ab extra must also be included. It has been long a much vexed 
question whether the arts and the religion of the Greeks were 
developed independently or through foreign icrge^' ''on. Un- 
der the conduct of a one-sided understandi: j the controversy 
is interminable ; for it is no less a fact of history th°t + he Greeks 
derived conceptions from India, Syria, and Egypt, han that 
the Greek conceptions are peculiar to themselves, and those 
others alien. Herodotus (II. 53) asserts, wi + h equal decision, 
that " Homer and Hesiod invented a Theogony for the Greeks, 
and assigned to the gods their appropriate epithets " (a most 
weighty sentence, which has been the subject of deep investiga- 
tion, especially by Creuzer) — and, in another place, that Greece 
took the names of its divinities from Egypt, and that the Greeks 
made inquiry at Dodona, whether they ought to adopt these 
names or not. This appears self-contradictory : it is, however, 
quite consistent; for the fact is that the Greeks evolved the 
Spiritual from the materials which they had received. The 
Natural, as explained by man — i.e. its internal essential element 
— is, as a universal principle, the beginning of the Divine. Just 
as in Art the Greeks may have acquired a mastery of technical 
matters from others — from the Egyptians especially — so in 
their religion the commencement might have been from with- 
out ; but by their independent spirit they transformed the one 
as well as the other. 

Traces of such foreign rudiments may be generally discov- 
ered (Creuzer, in his " Symbolik," dwells especially on this 
point). The amours of Zeus appear indeed as something iso- 
lated, extraneous, adventitious, but it may be shown that foreign 
theogonic representations form their basis. Hercules is, among 


the Hellenes, that Spiritual Humanity which by native energy 
attains Olympus through the twelve far-famed labors : but the 
foreign idea that lies at the basis is the Sun, completing its 
revolution through the twelve signs of the Zodiac. The Mys- 
teries were only such ancient rudiments, and certainly con- 
tained no greater wisdom than already existed in the conscious- 
ness of the Greeks. All Athenians were initiated in the 
mysteries — Socrates excepted, who refused initiation, because 
he knew well that science and art are not the product of mys- 
teries, and that Wisdom never lies among arcana. True science 
has its place much rather in the open field of consciousness. 

In summing up the constituents of the Greek Spirit, we find 
its fundamental characteristic to be, that the freedom of Spirit 
is conditioned by and has an essential relation to some stimulus 
supplied by Nature. Greek freedom of thought is excited by 
an alien existence; but it is free because it transforms and 
virtually reproduces the stimulus by its own operation. This 
phase of Spirit is the medium between the loss of individuality 
on the part of man (such as we observe in the Asiatic principle, 
in which the Spiritual and Divine exists only under a Natural 
form), and Infinite Subjectivity as pure certainty of itself — the 
position that the Ego is the ground of all that can lay claim to 
substantial existence. The Greek Spirit as the medium between 
these two, begins with Nature, but transforms it into a mere 
objective form of its (Spirit's) own existence ; Spirituality is 
therefore not yet absolutely free ; not yet absolutely self ^pro- 
duced — is not self-stimulation. Setting out from surmise and 
wonder, the Greek Spirit advances to definite conceptions of 
the hidden meanings of Nature. In the subject itself too, the 
same harmony is produced. In Man, the side of his subjective 
existence which he owes to Nature, is the Heart, the Disposi- 
tion, Passion, and Variety of Temperament : this side is then 
developed in a spiritual direction to free Individuality ; so that 
the character is not placed in a relation to universally valid 
moral authorities, assuming the form of duties, but the Moral 
appears as a nature peculiar to the individual — an exertion of 
will, the result of disposition and individual constitution. This 
stamps the Greek character as that of Individuality conditioned 
by Beauty, which is produced by Spirit, transforming the merely 
Natural into an expression of its own being. The activity of 
Spirit does not yet possess in itself the material and organ of 


2 39 

expression, but needs the excitement of Nature and the matter 
which Nature supplies : it is not free, self-determining Spiritu- 
ality, but mere naturalness formed to Spirituality — Spiritual 
Individuality. The Greek Spirit is the plastic artist, forming 
the stone into a work of art. In this formative process the stone 
does not remain mere stone — the form being only superin- 
duced from without ; but it is made an expression of the Spirit- 
ual, even contrary to its nature, and thus transformed. Con- 
versely, the artist needs for his spiritual conceptions, stone, 
colors, sensuous forms to express his idea. Without such an 
element he can no more be conscious of the idea himself, than 
give it an objective form for the contemplation of others ; since 
it cannot in Thought alone become an object to him. The 
Egyptian Spirit also was a similar laborer in Matter, but the 
Natural had not yet been subjected to the Spiritual, No ad- 
vance was made beyond a struggle and contest with it; the 
Natural still took an independent position, and formed one side 
of the image, as in the body of the Sphinx. In Greek Beauty 
the Sensuous is only a sign, an expression, an envelope, in which • 
Spirit manifests itself. 

It must be added, that while the Greek Spirit is a transform- 
ing artist of this kind, it knows itself free in its productions ; 
for it is their creator, and they are what is called the " work of 
man." They are, however, not merely this, but Eternal Truth 
— the energizing of Spirit in its innate essence, and quite as 
really not created as created by man. He has a respect and 
veneration for these conceptions and images — this Olympian 
Zeus — this Pallas of the Acropolis — and in the same way for the 
laws, political and ethical, that guide his actions. But He, the 
human being, is the womb that conceived them, he the breast 
that suckled them, he the Spiritual to which their grandeur 
and purity are owing. Thus he feels himself calm in contem- 
plating them, and not only free in himself, but possessing the 
consciousness of his freedom ; thus the honor of the Human is 
swallowed up in the worship of the Divine. Men honor the 
Divine in and for itself, but at the same time as their deed, their 
production, their phenomenal existence; thus the Divine re- 
ceives its honor through the respect paid to the Human, and 
the Human in virtue of the honor paid to the Divine. 

Such are the qualities of that Beautiful Individuality, which 
constitutes the centre of the Greek character. We must now 



consider the several radiations wnich this idea throws out in 
realizing itself. All issue in works of art, and we may arrange 
under three heads : the subjective work of art, that is, the cul- 
ture of the man himself; — the objective work of art, i.e., the 
shaping of the world of divinities ; — lastly, the political work of 
art — the form of the Constitution, and the relations of the In- 
dividuals who compose it, , 



Chapter I. — The Subjective Work of Art 

AN with his necessities sustains a practical relation to 
external Nature, and in making it satisfy his desires, 
and thus using it up, has recourse to a system of means. 
For natural objects are powerful, and offer resistance in various 
ways. In order to subdue them, man introduces other natural 
agents ; thus turns Nature against itself, and invents instruments 
for this purpose. These human inventions belong to Spirit, 
and such an instrument is to be respected more than a mere 
natural object. We see, too, that the Greeks are accustomed 
to set an especial value upon them, for in Homer, man's delight 
in them appears in a very striking way. In the notice of 
Agamemnon's sceptre, its origin is given in detail : mention is 
made of doors which turn on hinges, and of accoutrements and 
furniture, in a way that expresses satisfaction. The honor of 
human invention in subjugating Nature is ascribed to the gods. 
But, on the other hand, man uses Nature for ornament, which 
is intended only as a token of wealth and of that which man 
has made of himself. We find Ornament, in this interest, al- 
ready very much developed among the Homeric Greeks. It is 
true that both barbarians and civilized nations ornament them- 
selves ; but barbarians content themselves with mere ornament ; 
— they intend their persons to please by an external addition. 
But ornament by its very nature is destined only to beautify 
something other than itself, viz. the human body, which is 
man's immediate environment, and which, in common with 
Nature at large, he has to transform. The spiritual interest of 
primary importance is, therefore, the development of the body 
to a perfect organ for the Will — an adaptation which may on 
the one hand itself be the means for ulterior objects, and on the 
i 241 


other hand, appear as an object per se. Among the Greeks, 
then, we find this boundless impulse of individuals to display 
themselves, and to find their enjoyment in so doing. Sensuous 
enjoyment does not become the basis of their condition when 
a state of repose has been obtained, any more than the depen- 
dence and stupor of superstition which enjoyment entails. They 
are too powerfully excited, too much bent upon developing 
their individuality, absolutely to adore Nature, as it manifests 
itself in its aspects of power and beneficence. That peaceful 
condition which ensued when a predatory life had been relin- 
quished, and liberal nature had afforded security and leisure, 
turned their energies in the direction of self-assertion — the ef- 
fort to dignify themselves. But while on the one side they have 
too much independent personality to be subjugated by super- 
stition, that sentiment has not gone to the extent of making 
them vain; on the contrary, essential conditions must be first 
satisfied, before this can become a matter of vanity with them. 
The exhilarating sense of personality, in contrast with sensuous 
subjection to nature, and the need, not of mere pleasure, but of 
the display of individual powers, in order thereby to gain special 
distinction and consequent enjoyment, constitute therefore the 
chief characteristic and principal occupation of the Greeks. 
Free as the bird singing in the sky, the individual only expresses 
what lies in his untrammelled human nature — [to give the 
world " assurance of a man "] — to have his importance recog- 
nized. This is the subjective beginning of Greek Art — in which 
the human being elaborates his physical being, in free, beauti- 
ful movement and agile vigor, to a work of art. The Greeks 
first trained their own persons to beautiful configurations be^ 
fore they attempted the expression of such in marble and in 
paintings. The innocuous contests of games, in which every 
one exhibits his powers, is of very ancient date. Homer gives 
a noble description of the games conducted by Achilles, in 
honor of Patroclus ; but in all his poems there is no notice of 
statues of the gods, though he mentions the sanctuary at Do- 
dona, and the treasure-house of Apollo at Delphi. The games 
in Homer consist in wrestling and boxing, running, horse and 
chariot races, throwing the discus or javelin, and archery. With 
these exercises are united dance and song, to express and form 
part of the enjoyment of social exhilaration, and which arts 
likewise blossomed into beauty. On the shield of Achilles, 



Hephaestus represents, among • other things, how beautiful 
youths and maidens move as quickly " with well-taught feet," 
as the potter turns his wheel. The multitude stand round en- 
joying the spectacle ; the divine singer accompanies the song 
with the harp, and two chief dancers perform their evolutions 
in the centre of the circle. 

These games and aesthetic displays, with the pleasures and 
honors that accompanied them, were at the outset only private, 
originating in particular occasions ; but in the sequel they be- 
came an affair of the nation, and were fixed for certain times at 
appointed places. Besides the Olympic games in the sacred 
district of Elis, there were also held the Isthmian, the Pythian, 
and Nemean, at other places. 

If we look at the inner nature of these sports, we shall first 
observe how Sport itself is opposed to serious business, to 
dependence and need. This wrestling, running, contending 
was no serious affair; bespoke no obligation of defence, no 
necessity of combat. Serious occupation is labor that has refer- 
ence to some want. I or Nature must succumb ; if the one is to 
continue, the other must fall. In contrast with this kind of 
seriousness, however, Sport presents the higher seriousness ; 
for in it Nature is wrought into Spirit, and although in these 
contests the subject has not advanced to the highest grade of 
serious thought, yet in this exercise of his physical powers, 
man shows his Freedom, viz. that he has transformed his body 
to an organ of Spirit. 

Man has immediately in one of his organs, the Voice, an 
element which admits and requires a more extensive purport 
than the mere sensuous Present. We have seen how Song is 
united with the Dance, and ministers to it : but, subsequently 
Song makes itself independent, and requires musical instru- 
ments to accompany it ; it then ceases to be unmeaning, like 
the modulations of a bird, which may indeed express emotion, 
but which have no objective import ; but it requires an import 
created by imagination and Spirit, and which is then further 
formed into an objective work of art. 


Chapter II The Objective Work of Art 

If the subject of Song as thus developed among the Greeks 
is made a question, we should say that its essential and absolute 
purport is religious. We have examined the Idea embodied in 
the Greek Spirit; and Religion is nothing else than this Idea 
made the essence of being. According to that Idea, 
we shall observe also that the Divine involves the vis nature? 
only as an element suffering a process of transformation to 
spiritual power. Of this Natural Element, as its origin, nothing 
more remains than the accord of analogy involved in the repre- 
sentation they formed of Spiritual power ; for the Greeks wor- 
shipped God as Spiritual. We cannot, therefore, regard the 
Greek divinity as similar to the Indian — some Power of Nature 
for which the human shape supplies only an outward form. 
The essence is the Spiritual itself, and the Natural is only the 
point of departure. But on the other hand, it must be ob- 
served, that the divinity of the Greeks is not yet the absolute, 
free Spirit, but Spirit in a particular mode, fettered by the limi- 
tations of humanity — still dependent as a determinate individ- 
uality on external conditions. Individualities, objectively beau- 
tiful, are the gods of the Greeks. The divine Spirit is here so 
conditioned as to be not yet regarded as abstract Spirit, but has 
a specialized existence — continues to manifest itself in sense ; but 
so that the sensuous is not its substance, but is only an element 
of its manifestation. This must be our leading idea in the con- 
sideration of the Greek mythology, and we must have our atten- 
tion fixed upon it so much the more firmly, as — partly through 
the influence of erudition, which has whelmed essential prin- 
ciples beneath an infinite amount of details, and partly through 
that destructive analysis which is the work of the abstract Un- 
derstanding — this mythology, together with the more ancient 
periods of Greek history, has become a region of the greatest 
intellectual confusion. 

In the Idea of the Greek Spirit we found the two elements, 
Nature and Spirit, in such a relation to each other, that Nature 
forms merely the point of departure. This degradation of Nat- 
ure is in the Greek mythology the turning point of the whole 
— expressed as the War of the Gods, the overthrow of the Titans 
by the race of Zeus. The transition from the Oriental to the 
Occidental Spirit is therein represented, for the Titans are the 


merely Physical — natural existences, from whose grasp sov- 
ereignty is wrested. It is true that they continue to be ven- 
erated, but not as governing powers ; for they are relegated to 
the verge [the limbus] of the world. The Titans are powers 
of Nature, Uranus, Gsea, Oceanus, Selene, Helios, etc. Chronos 
expresses the dominion of abstract Time, which devours its 
children. The unlimited power of reproduction is restrained, 
and Zeus appears as the head of the new divinities, who em- 
body a spiritual import, and are themselves Spirit.* It is not 
possible to express this transition more distinctly and naively 
than in this myth ; the new dynasty of divinities proclaim their 
peculiar nature to be of a Spiritual order. 

The second point is, that the new divinities retain natural ele- 
ments, and consequently in themselves a determinate relation 
to the powers of Nature, as was previously shown. Zeus has 
his lightnings and clouds, and Hera is the creatress of the 
Natural, the producer of crescent vitality. Zeus is also the po- 
litical god, the protector of morals and of hospitality. Oceanus, 
as such, is only the element of Nature which his name denotes. 
Poseidon has still the wildness of that element in his character ; 
but he is also an ethical personage ; to him is ascribed the build- 
ing of walls and the production of the Horse. Helios is the 
sun as a natural element. This Light, according to the anal- 
ogy of Spirit, has been transformed to self-consciousness, and 
Apollo has proceeded from Helios. The name Aviceio*; points 
to the connection with light ; Apollo was a herdsman in the em- 
ploy of Admetus, but oxen not subjected to the yoke were 
sacred to Helios : his rays, represented as arrows, kill the Py- 
thon. The idea of Light as the natural power constituting the 
basis of the representation, cannot be dissociated from this 
divinity; especially as the other predicates attached to it are 
easily united with it, and the explanations of Miiller and others, 
who deny that basis, are much more arbitrary and far-fetched. 
For Apollo is the prophesying and discerning god — Light, that 
makes everything clear. He is, moreover, the healer and 
strengthener ; as also the destroyer, for he kills men. He is 
the propitiating and purifying god, e.g., in contravention of the 
Eumenides — the ancient subterrene divinities — who exact hard, 
stern justice. He himself is pure ; he has no wife, but only a 
sister, and is not involved in various disgusting adventures, like 

* See Hegel's " Vorles. uber die Philos. der Religion," II. p. 102 et seq. (2d edi- 


Zeus ; moreover, he is the discerner and declarer, the singer 
and leader of the dances — as the sun leads the harmonious 
dance of stars. — In like manner the Naiads became the Muses. 
The mother of the gods, Cybele — continuing to be worshipped 
at Ephesus as Artemis — is scarcely to be recognized as the Ar- 
temis of the Greeks — the chaste huntress and destroyer of wild 
beasts. Should it be said that this change of the Natural into 
the Spiritual is owing to our allegorizing, or that of the later 
Greeks, we may reply, that this transformation of the Natural 
to the Spiritual is the Greek Spirit itself. The epigrams of 
the Greeks exhibit such advances from the Sensuous to the 
Spiritual. But the abstract Understanding cannot comprehend 
this blending of the Natural with the Spiritual. 

It must be further observed, that the Greek gods are to be 
regarded as individualities — not abstractions, like " Knowl- 
edge," " Unity," " Time," " Heaven," " Necessity." Such ab- 
stractions do not form the substance of these divinities ; they 
are no allegories, no abstract beings, to which various attributes 
are attached, like the Horatian " Necessitas clavis trabalibus." 
As little are the divinities symbols, for a symbol is only a sign, 
an adumbration of something else. The Greek gods express 
of themselves what they are. The eternal repose and clear in- 
telligence that dignifies the head of Apollo, is not a symbol, but 
the expression in which Spirit manifests itself, and shows itself 
present. The gods are personalities, concrete individualities: 
an allegorical being has no qualities, but is itself one quality and 
no more. The gods are, moreover, special characters, since in 
each of them one peculiarity predominates as the characteristic 
one ; but it would be vain to try to bring this circle of characters 
into a system. Zeus, perhaps, may be regarded as ruling the 
other gods, but not with substantial power ; so that they are 
left free to their own idiosyncrasy. Since the whole range of 
spiritual and moral qualities was appropriated by the gods, the 
unity, which stood above them all, necessarily remained ab- 
stract ; it was therefore formless and unmeaning Fact, [the ab- 
solute constitution of things] — Necessity, whose oppressive 
character arises from the absence of the Spiritual in it ; whereas 
the gods hold a friendly relation to men, for they are Spiritual 
natures. That higher thought, the knowledge of Unity as God 
— the One Spirit — lay beyond that grade of thought which the 
Greeks had attained. 


With regard to the adventitious and special that attaches to the 
Greek gods, the question arises, where the external origin of 
this adventitious element is to be looked for. It arises partly 
from local characteristics — the scattered condition of the Greeks 
at the commencement of their national life, fixing as this did on 
certain points, and consequently introducing local representa- 
tions. The local divinities stand alone, and occupy a much 
greater extent than they do afterwards, when they enter into 
the circle of the divinities, and are reduced to a limited position ; 
they are conditioned by the particular consciousness and cir- 
cumstances of the countries in which they appear. There are a 
multitude of Herculeses and Zeuses, that have their local his- 
tory like the Indian gods, who also at different places possess 
temples to which a peculiar legend attaches. A similar rela- 
tion occurs in the case of the Catholic saints and their legends ; 
though here, not the several localities, but the one " Mater Dei " 
supplies the point of departure, being afterwards localized in 
the most diversified modes. The Greeks relate the liveliest and 
most attractive stories of their gods — to which no limit can be 
assigned, since rich fancies were always gushing forth anew 
in the living Spirit of *he Greeks. A second source from which 
adventitious specialities in the conception of the gods arose is 
that Worship of Nature, whose representations retain a place 
in the Greek myths, as certainly as they appear there also in a 
regenerated and transfigured condition. The preservation of 
the original myths, brings us to the famous chapter of the 
" Mysteries," already mentioned. These mysteries of the Greeks 
present something which, as unknown, has attracted the curios- 
ity of all times, under the supposition of profound wisdom. It 
must first be remarked that their antique and primary character, 
in virtue of its very antiquity, shows their destitution of excel- 
lence — their inferiority ; — that the more refined truths are not 
expressed in these mysteries, and that the view which many have 
entertained is incorrect, viz. — that the Unity of God, in oppo- 
sition to polytheism, was taught in them. The mysteries were 
rather antique rituals ; and it is as unhistorical as it is foolish, 
to assume that profound philosophical truths are to be found 
there ; since, on the contrary, only natural ideas — ruder con- 
ceptions of the metamorphoses occurring everywhere in nature, 
and of the vital principle that pervades it — were the subjects of 
those mysteries. If we put together all the historical data per- 


tinent to tlie question, the result we shall inevitably arrive at will 
be that the mysteries did not constitute a system of doctrines, 
but were sensuous ceremonies and exhibitions, consisting of 
symbols of the universal operations of Nature, as, e.g., the rela- 
tion of the earth to celestial phenomena. The chief basis of the 
representations of Ceres and Proserpine, Bacchus and his train, 
was the universal principle of Nature ; and the accompanying 
details were obscure stories and representations, mainly bear- 
ing on the universal vital force and its metamorphoses. An 
analogous process to that of Nature, Spirit has also to undergo ; 
for it must be twice-born, i.e. abnegate itself ; and thus the repre- 
sentations given in the mysteries called attention, though only 
feebly, to the nature of Spirit. In the Greeks they produced an 
emotion of shuddering awe; for an instinctive dread comes 
over men, when a signification is perceived in a form, which as 
a sensuous phenomenon does not express that signification, and 
which therefore both repels and attracts — awakes surmises by 
the import that reverberates through the whole, but at the same 
time a thrill of dread at the repellent form. ^Eschylus was ac- 
cused of having profaned the mysteries in his tragedies. The 
indefinite representations and symbols of the Mysteries, in 
which the profound import is only surmised, are an element 
alien to the clear pure forms, and threaten them with destruc- 
tion ; on which account the gods of Art remain separated from 
the gods of the Mysteries, and the two spheres must be strictly 
dissociated. Most of their gods the Greeks received from for- 
eign lands — as Herodotus states expressly with regard to Egypt 
— but these exotic myths were transformed and spiritualized by 
the Greeks ; and that part of the foreign theogonies which ac- 
companied them, was, in the mouth of the Hellenes, worked 
up into a legendary narrative which often redounded to the dis- 
advantage of the divinities. Thus also the brutes which con- 
tinued to rank as gods among the Egyptians, were degraded 
to external signs, accompanying the Spiritual god. While they 
have each an individual character, the Greek gods are also 
represented as human, and this anthropomorphism is charged 
as a defect. On the contrary (we may immediately rejoin) man 
as the Spiritual constitutes the element of truth in the Greek 
gods, which rendered them superior to all elemental deities, 
and all mere abstractions of the One and Highest Being. On 
the other side it is alleged as an advantage of the Greek gods 



that they are represented as men — that being regarded as not 
the case with the Christian God. Schiller says : 

" While the gods remained more human, 
The men were more ,divine." 

But the Greek gods must not be regarded as more human than 
the Christian God. Christ is much more a Man: he lives, dies 
— suffers death on the cross — which is infinitely more human 
than the humanity of the Greek Idea of the Beautiful. But in 
referring to this common element of the Greek and the Chris- 
tian religions, it must be said of both, that if a manifestation 
of God is to be supposed at all, his natural form must be that 
of Spirit, which for sensuous conception is essentially the 
human ; for no other form can lay claim to spirituality. God 
appears indeed in the sun, in the mountains, in the tr es, in 
everything that has life ; but a natural appearance of this kind, 
is not the form proper to Spirit : here God is cognizable only 
in the mind of the percipient. If God himself is to be manifested 
in a corresponding expression, that can only be the human 
form : for from this the Spiritual beams forth. But if it were 
asked: Does God necessarily manifest himself? the question 
must be answered in the affirmative ; for there is no essential 
existence that does not manifest itself. The real defect of the 
Greek religion, as compared with the Christian, is, therefore, 
that in the former the manifestation constitutes the highest mode 
in which the Divine being is conceived to exist — the sum and 
substance of divinity ; while in the Christian religion the man- 
ifestation is regarded only as a temporary phase of the Divine. 
Here the manifested God dies, and elevates himself to glory; 
only after death is Christ represented as sitting at the right hand 
of God. The Greek god, on the contrary, exists for his wor- 
shippers perennially in the manifestation — only in marble, in 
metal or wood, or as figured by the imagination. But why did 
God not appear to the Greeks in the flesh ? Because man was 
not duly estimated, did not obtain honor and dignity, till he had 
more fully elaborated and developed himself in the attainment 
of the Freedom implicit in the aesthetic manifestation in ques- 
tion ; the form and shaping of the divinity therefore continued 
to be the product of individual views, [not a general, imper- 
sonal one] . One element in Spirit is, that it produces itself — 
makes itself what it is : and the other is, that it is originally free 



— that Freedom is its nature and its Idea. But the Greeks, since 
they had not attained an intellectual conception of themselves, 
did not yet realize Spirit in its Universality — had not the idea 
of man and the essential unity of the divine and human nature 
according to the Christian view. Only the self-reliant, truly 
subjective Spirit can bear to dispense with the phenomenal side, 
and can venture to assign the Divine Nature to Spirit alone. 
It then no longer needs to inweave the Natural into its idea of 
the Spiritual, in order to hold fast its conception of the Divine, 
and to have its unity with the Divine, externally visible ; but 
while free Thought thinks the Phenomenal, it is content to 
leave it as it is ; for it also thinks that union of the Finite and 
the Infinite, and recognizes it not as a mere accidental union, 
but as the Absolute — the eternal Idea itself. Since Subjectivity 
was not comprehended in all its depth by the Greek Spirit, the 
true reconciliation was not attained in it, and the human Spirit 
did not yet assert its true position. This defect showed itself 
in the fact of Fate as pure subjectivity appearing superior to 
the gods ; it also shows itself in the fact, that men derive their 
resolves not yet from themselves, but from their Oracles. 
Neither human nor divine subjectivity, recognized as infinite, 
has as yet, absolutely decisive authority. 

Chapter III — The Political Work of Art 

The State unites the two phases just considered, viz., the 
Subjective and the Objective Work of Art. In the State, Spirit 
is not a mere Object, like the deities, nor, on the other hand, is 
it merely subjectively developed to a beautiful physique. It is 
here a living, universal Spirit, but which is at the same time the 
self-conscious Spirit of the individuals composing the com- 

The Democratical Constitution alone was adapted to the Spirit 
and political condition in question. In the East we recognized 
Despotism, developed in magnificent proportions, as a form of 
government strictly appropriate to the Dawn-Land of History. 
Not less adapted is the democratical form in Greece, to the part 
assigned to it in the same great drama. In Greece, viz., we have 
the freedom of the Individual, but it has not yet advanced to 
such a degree of abstraction, that the subjective unit is conscious 
of direct dependence on the [general] substantial principle — 


the State as such. In this grade of Freedom, the individual will 
is unfettered in the entire range of its vitality, and embodies that 
substantial principle [the bond of the political union], accord- 
ing to its particular idiosyncrasy. In Rome, on the other hand, 
we shall observe a harsh sovereignty dominating over the in- 
dividual members of the State ; as also in the German Empire, 
a monarchy, in which the Individual is connected with and has 
devoirs to perform not only in regard to the monarch, but to 
the whole monarchical organization. 

The Democratical State is not Patriarchal — does not rest on 
a still unreflecting, undeveloped confidence — but implies laws, 
with the consciousness of their being founded on an equitable 
and moral basis, and the recognition of these laws as positive. 
At the time of the Kings, no political life had as yet made its 
appearance in Hellas ; there are, therefore, only slight traces of 
Legislation. But in the interval from the Trojan War till near 
the time of Cyrus, its necessity was felt. The first Lawgivers 
are known under the name of The Seven Sages — a title which 
at that time did not imply any such character as that of the 
Sophists — teachers of wisdom, designedly [and systematically] 
proclaiming the Right and True — but merely thinking men, 
whose thinking stopped short of Science, properly so called. 
They were practical politicians ; the good counsels which two 
of them — Thales of Miletus and* Bias of Priene — gave to the 
Ionian cities, have been already mentioned. Thus Solon was 
commissioned by the Athenians to give them laws, as those 
then in operation no longer sufficed. Solon gave the Athe- 
nians a constitution by which all obtained equal rights, yet not 
so as to render the Democracy a quite abstract one. The main 
point in Democracy is moral disposition. Virtue is the basis of 
Democracy, remarks Montesquieu; and this sentiment is as 
important as it is true in reference to the idea of Democracy 
commonly entertained. The Substance, [the Principle] of 
Justice, the common weal, the general interest, is the main con- 
sideration ; but it is so only as Custom, in the form of Objective 
Will, so that morality properly so called — subjective convic- 
tion and intention — has not yet manifested itself. Law exists, 
and is in point of substance, the Law of Freedom — rational [in 
its form and purport,] and valid because it is Law, i.e. without 
ulterior sanction. As in Beauty the Natural element — its sen- 
suous coefficient — remains, so also in this customary morality. 

Vol. 23 L— Classics 


laws assume the form of a necessity of Nature. The Greeks oc- 
cupy the middle ground of Beauty and have not yet attained the 
higher standpoint of Truth. While Custom and Wont is the 
form in which the Right is willed and done, that form is a stable 
one, and has not yet admitted into it the foe of [unreflected] im- 
mediacy — reflection and subjectivity of Will. The interests of 
the community may, therefore, continue to be intrusted to the 
will and resolve of the citizens — and this must be the basis of 
the Greek constitution ; for no principle has as yet manifested 
itself, which can contravene such Choice conditioned by Cus- 
tom, and hinder its realizing itself in action. The Democratic 
Constitution is here the only possible one : the citizens are still 
unconscious of particular interests, and therefore of a corrupt- 
ing element: the Objective Will is in their case not disin- 
tegrated. Athene the goddess is Athens itself — i.e., the real 
and concrete spirit of the citizens. The divinity ceases to in- 
spire their life and conduct, only when the Will has retreated 
within itself — into the adytum of cognition and conscience — and 
has posited the infinite schism between the Subjective and the 
Objective. The above is the true position of the Democratic 
polity; its justification and absolute necessity rest on this still 
immanent Objective Morality. For the modern conceptions 
of Democracy this justification cannot be pleaded. These pro- 
vide that the interests of the community, the affairs of State, 
shall be discussed and decided by the People ; that the individ- 
ual members of the community shall deliberate, urge their 
respective opinions, and give their votes ; and this on the 
ground that the interests of the State and its concerns are the 
interests of such individual members. All this is very well ; 
but the essential condition^ and distinction in regard to various 
phases of Democracy is : What is the character of these individ- 
ual members ? They are absolutely authorized to assume their 
position, only in as far as their will is still Objective Will — not 
one that wishes this or that, not mere " good " will. For good 
will is something particular — rests on the morality of individ- 
uals, on their conviction and subjective feeling. That very sub- 
jective Freedom which constitutes the principle and determines 
the peculiar form of Freedom in our world — which forms the 
absolute basis of our political and religious life, could not mani- 
fest itself in Greece otherwise than as a destructive element. 
Subjectivity was a grade not greatly in advance of that occu- 



pied by the Greek Spirit; that phase must of necessity soon 
be attained : but it plunged the Greek world into ruin, for the 
polity which that world embodied was not calculated for this 
side of humanity — did not recognize this phase; since it had 
not made its appearance when that polity began to exist. Of 
the Greeks in the first and genuine form of their Freedom, we 
may assert, that they had no conscience; the habit of living 
for their country without further [analysis or] reflection, was 
the principle dominant among them. The consideration of the 
State in the abstract — which to our understanding is the essen- 
tial point — was alien to them. Their grand object was their 
country in its living and real aspect; — this actual Athens, this 
Sparta, these Temples, these Altars, this form of social life, this 
union of fellow-citizens, these manners and customs. To the 
Greek his country was a necessary of life, without which exist- 
ence was impossible. It was the Sophists — the " Teachers of 
Wisdom " — who first introduced subjective reflection, and the 
new doctrine that each man should act according to his own con- 
viction. When reflection once comes into play, the inquiry is 
started whether the Principles of Law (das Recht) cannot be 
improved. Instead of holding by the existing state of things, 
internal conviction is relied upon ; and thus begins a subjective 
independent Freedom, in which the individual finds himself in 
a position to bring everything to the test of his own conscience, 
even in defiance of the existing constitution. Each one has 
his " principles," and that view which accords with his private 
judgment he regards as practically the best, and as claiming 
practical realization. This decay even Thucydides notices, 
when he speaks of every one's thinking that things are going 
on badly when he has not a hand in the management. 

To this state of things — in which every one presumes to have 
a judgment of his own — confidence in Great Men is antagonis- 
tic. When, in earlier times, the Athenians commission Solon to 
legislate for them, or when Lycurgus appears at Sparta as law- 
giver and regulator of the State, it is evidently not supposed 
that the people in general think that they know best what is 
politically right. At a later time also, it was distinguished per- 
sonages of plastic genius in whom the people placed their con- 
fidence : Cleisthenes, e.g. who made the constitution still more 
democratic than it had been — Miltiades, Themistocles, Aris- 
tides, and Cimon, who in the Median wars stand at the head of 


Athenian affairs — and Pericles, in whom Athenian glory cen- 
tres as in its focus. But as soon as any of these great men had 
performed what was needed, envy intruded — i.e. the recoil of 
the sentiment of equality against conspicuous talent — and he 
was either imprisoned or exiled. Finally, the Sycophants arose 
among the people, aspersing all individual greatness, and revil- 
ing those who took the lead in public affairs. 

But there are three other points in the condition of the Greek 
republics that must be particularly observed. 

i. With Democracy in that form in which alone it existed in 
Greece, Oracles are intimately connected. To an independent 
resolve, a consolidated Subjectivity of the Will (in which the 
latter is determined by preponderating reasons) is absolutely 
indispensable ; but the Greeks had not this element of strength 
and vigor in their volition. When a colony was to be founded, 
when it was proposed to adopt the worship of foreign deities, 
or when a general was about to give battle to the enemy, the 
oracles were consulted. Before the battle of Plataea, Pausanias 
took care that an augury should be taken from the animals 
offered in sacrifice, and was informed by the soothsayer Tisam- 
enus that the sacrifices were favorable to the Greeks provided 
they remained on the hither side of the Asopus, but the con- 
trary, if they crossed the stream and began the battle. Pau- 
sanias, therefore, awaited the attack. In their private affairs, 
too, the Greeks came to a determination not so much from sub- 
jective conviction as from some extraneous suggestion. With 
the advance of democracy we observe the oracles no longer con- 
sulted on the most important matters, but the particular views 
of popular orators influencing and deciding the policy of the 
State. As at this time Socrates relied upon his " Daemon," so 
the popular leaders and the people relied on their individual 
convictions in forming their decisions. But contemporaneously 
with this were introduced corruption, disorder, and an unin- 
termitted process of change in the constitution. 

2. Another circumstance that demands special attention here, 
is the element of Slavery. This was a necessary condition oi 
an aesthetic democracy, where it was the right and duty of every 
citizen to deliver or to listen to orations respecting the man- 
agement of the State in the place of public assembly, to take part 
in the exercise of the Gymnasia, and to join in the celebration 
of festivals. It was a necessary condition of such occupations, 


that the citizens should be freed from handicraft occupations ; 
consequently, that what among us is performed by free citizens 
— the work of daily life — should be done by slaves. Slavery 
does not cease until the Will has been infinitely self-reflected * 
— until Right is conceived as appertaining to every freeman, 
and the term freeman is regarded as a synonym for man in his 
generic nature as endowed with Reason. But here we still oc- 
cupy the standpoint of Morality as mere Wont and Custom, 
and therefore known only as a peculiarity attaching to a cer- 
tain kind of existence [not as absolute and universal Law]. 

3. It must also be remarked, thirdly, that such democratic 
constitutions are possible only in small states — states which do 
not much exceed the compass of cities. The whole Polis of 
the Athenians is united in the one city of Athens. Tradition 
tells that Theseus united the scattered Demes into an integral 
totality. In the time of Pericles, at the beginning of the Pelo- 
ponnesian War, when the Spartans were marching upon Attica, 
its entire population took refuge in the city. Only in such cities 
can the interests of all be similar ; in large empires, on the con- 
trary, diverse and conflicting interests are sure to present them- 
selves. The living together in one city, the fact that the in- 
habitants see each other daily, render a common culture and a 
living democratic polity possible. In Democracy, the main 
point is that the character of the citizen be plastic, all " of a 
piece." He must be present at the critical stages of public busi- 
ness ; he must take part in decisive crises with his entire per- 
sonality — not with his vote merely; he must mingle in the 
heat of action — the passion and interest of the whole man being 
absorbed in the affair, and the warmth with which a resolve was 
made being equally ardent during its execution. That unity of 
opinion to which the whole community must be brought [when 
any political step is to be taken,] must be produced in the indi- 
vidual members of the state by oratorical suasion. If this were 
attempted by writing — in an abstract, lifeless way — no general 
fervor would be excited among the social units ; and the greater 
the number, the less weight would each individual vote have. 
In a large empire a general inquiry might be made, votes might 
be gathered in the several communities, and the results reck- 
oned up — as was done by the French Convention. But a po- 
litical existence of this kind is destitute of life, and the World 

* That is— the Objective and the Subjective Will must be harmonized.— Ed. 


is ipso facto broken into fragments and dissipated into a mere 
Paper-world. In the French Revolution, therefore, the repub- 
lican constitution never actually became a Democracy: Tyr- 
anny, Despotism, raised its voice under the mask of Freedom 
and Equality. 

We come now to the Second Period of Greek History. The 
first period saw the Greek Spirit attain its aesthetic development 
and reach maturity — realize its essential being. The second 
shows it manifesting itself — exhibits it in its full glory as pro- 
ducing a work for the world, asserting its principle in the 
struggle with an antagonistic force, and triumphantly main* 
taining it against that attack. 

The Wars with the Persians 

The period of contact with the preceding World-Historical 
people, is generally to be regarded as the second in the history 
of any nation. The World-Historical contact of the Greeks 
was with the Persians; in that, Greece exhibited itself in its 
most glorious aspect. The occasion of the Median wars was the 
revolt of the Ionian cities against the Persians, in which the 
Athenians and Eretrians assisted them. That which, in par- 
ticular, induced the Athenians to take their part, was the cir- 
cumstance that the son of Pisistratus, after his attempts to re- 
gain sovereignty in Athens had failed in Greece, had betaken 
himself to the King of the Persians. The Father of History has 
given us a brilliant description of these Median wars, and for 
the object we are now pursuing we need not dwell long upon 

At the beginning of the Median wars, Lacedaemon was in 
possession of the Hegemony, partly as the result of having sub- 
jugated and enslaved the free nation of the Messenians, partly 
because it had assisted many Greek states to expel their Ty- 
rants. Provoked by the part the Greeks had taken in assisting 
the Ionians against him, the Persian King sent heralds to the 
Greek cities to require them to give Water and Earth, i.e. to 
acknowledge his supremacy. The Persian envoys were con- 
temptuously sent back, and the Lacedaemonians went so far 
as to throw them into a well — a deed, however, of which they 
afterwards so deeply repented, as to send two Lacedaemonians 
to Susa in expiation. The Persian King then despatched an 
army to invade Greece. With its vastly superior force the 


Athenians and Platgeans, without aid from their compatriots, 
contended at Marathon under Miltiades, and gained the victory. 
Afterwards, Xerxes came down upon Greece with his enormous 
masses of nations (Herodotus gives a detailed description of 
this expedition) ; and with the terrible array of land-forces was 
associated the not less formidable fleet. Thrace, Macedon, and 
Thessaly were soon subjugated ; but the entrance into Greece 
Proper — the Pass of Thermopylae — was defended by three hun- 
dred Spartans and seven hundred Thespians, whose fate is well 
known. Athens, voluntarily deserted by its inhabitants, was 
ravaged ; the images of the gods which it contained were " an 
abomination " to the Persians, who worshipped the Amorphous, 
the Unformed. In spite of the disunion of the Greeks, the Per- 
sian fleet was beaten at Salamis ; and this glorious battle-day 
presents the three greatest tragedians of Greece in remarkable 
chronological association : for ^Eschylus was one of the com- 
batants, and helped to gain the victory, Sophocles danced at 
the festival that celebrated it, and on the same day Euripides 
was born. The host that remained in Greece, under the com- 
mand of Mardonius, was beaten at Plataea by Pausanias, and the 
Persian power was consequently broken at various points. 

Thus was Greece freed from the pressure which threatened to 
overwhelm it. Greater battles, unquestionably, have been 
fought ; but these live immortal not in the historical records of 
Nations only, but also of Science and of Art — of the Noble and 
the Moral generally. For these are World-Historical victories ; 
they were the salvation of culture and Spiritual vigor, and they 
rendered the Asiatic principle powerless. How often, on other 
occasions, have not men sacrificed everything for one grand 
object ! How often have not warriors fallen for Duty and Coun- 
try! But here we are called to admire not only valor, genius 
and spirit, but the purport of the contest — the effect, the result, 
which are unique in their kind. In all other battles a particular 
interest is predominant ; but the immortal fame of the Greeks 
is none other than their due, in consideration of the noble cause 
for which deliverance was achieved. In the history of the world 
it is not the formal [subjective and individual] valor that has 
been displayed, not the so-called merit of the combatants, but 
the importance of the cause itself, that must decide the fame of 
the achievement. In the case before us, the interest of the 
(World's History hung trembling in the balance. Oriental des- 


potism — a world united under one lord and sovereign — on the 
one side, and separate states — insignificant in extent and re- 
sources, but animated by free individuality — on the other side, 
stood front to front in array of battle. Never in History has the 
superiority of spiritual power over material bulk — and that of 
no contemptible amount — been made so gloriously manifest. 
This war, and the subsequent development of the states which 
took the lead in it, is the most brilliant period of Greece. Every- 
thing which the Greek principle involved, then reached its per- 
fect bloom and came into the light of day. 

The Athenians continued their wars of conquest for a con- 
siderable time, and thereby attained a high degree of prosperity ; 
while the Lacedaemonians, who had no naval power, remained 
quiet. The antagonism of Athens and Sparta now commences 
— a favorite theme for historical treatment. It may be asserted 
that it is an idle inquiry, which of these two states justly claims 
the superiority, and that the endeavor should rather be, to 
exhibit each as in its own department a necessary and worthy 
phase of the Greek Spirit. On Sparta's behalf, e.g. many cate- 
gories may be referred to in which she displays excellence; 
strictness in point of morals, subjection to discipline, etc., may 
be advantageously cited. But the leading principle chat charac- 
terizes this state is Political Virtue, which Athens and Sparta 
have, indeed, in common, but which in the one state developed 
itself to a work of Art, viz., Free Individuality — in the other 
retained its substantial form. Before we speak of the Pelopon- 
nesian War, in which the jealousy of Sparta and Athens broke 
out into a flame, we must exhibit more specifically the funda- 
mental character of the two states — their distinctions in a po- 
litical and moral respect. 

' Athens 

We have already become acquainted with Athens as an 
asylum for the inhabitants of the other districts of Greece, in 
which a very mixed population was congregated. The various 
branches of human industry — agriculture, handicraft, and trade 
(especially by sea) — were united in Athens, but gave occasion 
to much dissension. An antagonism had early arisen between 
ancient and wealthy families and such as were poorer. Three 
parties, whose distinction had been grounded on their local 
position and the mode of life which that position suggested, 


were then fully recognized. These were, the Pediseans — in- 
habitants of the plain, the rich and aristocratic ; the Diacrians — 
mountaineers, cultivators of the vine and olive, and herdsmen, 
who were the most numerous class ; and between the two [in 
political status and sentiment] the Paralians — inhabitants of 
the coast, the moderate party. The polity of the state was 
wavering between Aristocracy and Democracy. Solon effected, 
by his division into four property-classes, a medium between 
these opposites. All these together formed the popular assem- 
bly for deliberation and decision on public affairs; but the 
offices of government were reserved for the three superior 
classes. It is remarkable that even while Solon was still living 
and actually present, and in spite of his opposition, Pisistratus 
acquired supremacy. The constitution had, as it were, not yet 
entered into the blood and life of the community ; it had not 
yet become the habit of moral and civil existence. But it is still 
more remarkable that Pisistratus introduced no legislative 
changes, and that he presented himself before the Areopagus to 
answer an accusation brought against him. The rule of Pisis- 
tratus and of his sons appears to have been needed for repress- 
ing the power of great families and factions — for accustoming 
them to order and peace, and the citizens generally, on the other 
hand, to the Solonian legislation. This being accomplished, 
that rule was necessarily regarded as superfluous, and the prin- 
ciples of a free code enter into conflict with the power of the 
Pisistratidae. The Pisistratidae were expelled, Hipparchus 
killed, and Hippias banished. Then factions were revived ; the 
Alcmaeonidse, who took the lead in the insurrection, favored 
Democracy ; on the other hand, the Spartans aided the adverse 
party of Isagoras, which followed the aristocratic direction. 
The Alcmseonidse, with Cleisthenes at their head, kept the upper 
hand. This leader made the constitution still more democratic 
than it had been ; the fyvkai, of which hitherto there had been 
only four, were increased to ten, and this had the effect of dimin- 
ishing the influence of the clans. Lastly, Pericles rendered the 
constitution yet more democratic by diminishing the essential 
dignity of the Areopagus, and bringing causes that had hitherto 
belonged to it, before the Demos and the [ordinary] tribunals. 
Pericles was a statesman of plastic * antique character : when 

* " Plastic," intimating his absolute diffused as a vitalizing and formative 
devotion to statesmanship ; the latter not power through the whole man. The 
being a mere mechanical addition, but same term is used below to distinguish 


he devoted himself to public life, he renounced private life, 
withdrew from all feasts and banquets, and pursued without 
intermission his aim of being useful to the state — a course of 
conduct by which he attained such an exalted position, that 
Aristophanes calls him the Zeus of Athens. We cannot but ad- 
mire him in the highest degree : he stood at the head of a light- 
minded but highly refined and cultivated people ; the only 
means by which he could obtain influence and authority over 
them, was his personal character and the impression he pro- 
duced of his being a thoroughly noble man, exclusively intent 
upon the weal of the State, and of superiority to his fellow-citi- 
zens in native genius and acquired knowledge. In force of 
individual character no statesman can be compared with him. 

As a general principle, the Democratic Constitution affords 
the widest scope for the development of great political charac- 
ters ; for it excels all others in virtue of the fact that it not only 
allows of the display of their powers on the part of individuals, 
but summons them to use those powers for the general weal. At 
the same time, no member of the community can obtain influ- 
ence unless he has the power of satisfying the intellect and judg- 
ment, as well as the passions and volatility of a cultivated 

In Athens a vital freedom existed, and a vital equality of man- 
ners and mental culture; and if inequality of property could 
not be avoided, it nevertheless did not reach an extreme. To- 
gether with this equality, and within the compass of this freedom, 
all diversities of character and talent, and all variety of idiosyn- 
crasy could assert themselves in the most unrestrained manner, 
and find the most abundant stimulus to development in its en- 
vironment ; for the predominant elements of Athenian existence 
were the independence of the social units, and a culture ani- 
mated by the Spirit of Beauty. It was Pericles who originated 
the production of those eternal monuments of sculpture whose 
scanty remains astonish posterity ; it was before this people 
that the dramas oF^Eschylus and Sophocles were performed ; 
and later on those of Euripides — which, however, do not exhibit 
the same plastic moral character, and in which the principle of 
corruption is more manifest. To this people were addressed the 
orations of Pericles : from it sprung a band of men whose genius 

the vitalizing morality that pervades the from the abstract sentimentalities of Eu« 
dramas of yEschylus and Sophocles, ripides. — Ed. 


has become classical for all centuries ; for to this number be- 
long, besides those already named, Thucydides, Socrates, Plato, 
and Aristophanes — the last of whom preserved entire the po- 
litical seriousness of his people at the time when it was being 
corrupted ; and who, imbued with this seriousness, wrote and 
dramatized with a view to his country's weal. We recognize 
in the Athenians great industry, susceptibility to excitement, 
and development of individuality within the sphere of Spirit 
conditioned by the morality of Custom. The blame with which 
we find them visited in Xenophon and Plato, attaches rather to 
that later period when misfortune and the corruption of the 
democracy had already supervened. But if we would have the 
verdict of the Ancients on the political life of Athens, we must 
turn, not to Xenophon, nor even to Plato, but to those who had 
a thorough acquaintance with the state in its full vigor — who 
managed its affairs and have been esteemed its greatest leaders 
— i.e., to its Statesmen. Among these, Pericles is the Zeus of 
the human Pantheon of Athens. Thucydides puts into his 
mouth the most profound description of Athenian life, on the 
occasion of the funeral obsequies of the warriors who fell in the 
second year of the Peloponnesian War. He proposes to show 
for what a city and in support of what interests they had died ; 
and this leads the speaker directly to the essential elements of 
the Athenian community. He goes on to paint the character 
of Athens, and what he says is most profoundly thoughtful, as 
well as most just and true. " We love the beautiful," he says, 
" but without ostentation or extravagance ; we philosophize 
without being seduced thereby into effeminacy and inactivity 
(for when men give themselves up to Thought, they get further 
and further from the Practical — from activity for the public, 
for the common weal). We are bold and daring; but this 
courageous energy in action does not prevent us from giving 
ourselves an account of what we undertake (we have a clear 
consciousness respecting it) ; among other nations, on the con- 
trary, martial daring has its basis in deficiency of culture : we 
know best how to distinguish between the agreeable and the 
irksome ; notwithstanding which, we do not shrink from perils." 
Thus Athens exhibited the spectacle of a state whose existence 
was essentially directed to realizing the Beautiful, which had a 
thoroughly cultivated consciousness respecting the serious side 
of public affairs and the interests of Man's Spirit and Life, and 


united with that consciousness, hardy courage and practical 


Here we witness on the other hand rigid abstract virtue — a 
life devoted to the State, but in which the activity and freedom 
of individuality are put in the background. The polity of Sparta 
is based on institutions which do full justice to the interest of the 
State, but whose object is a lifeless equality — not free move- 
ment. The very first steps in Spartan History are very different 
from the early stages of Athenian development. The Spartans 
were Dorians — the Athenians, Ionians ; and this national dis- 
tinction has an influence on their Constitution also. In refer- 
ence to the mode in which the Spartan State originated, we 
observe that the Dorians invaded the Peloponnesus with the 
Heracleidse, subdued the indigenous tribes, and condemned 
them to slavery; for the Helots were doubtless aborigines. 
The fate that had befallen the Helots was suffered at a later 
epoch by the Messenians; for inhuman severity of this order 
was innate in Spartan character. While the Athenians had a 
family-life, and slaves among them were inmates of the house, 
the relation of the Spartans to the subjugated race was one of 
even greater harshness than that of the Turks to the Greeks ; a 
state of warfare was constantly kept up in Lacedasmon. In 
entering upon office, the Ephors made an unreserved declara- 
tion of war against the Helots, and the latter were habitually 
given up to the younger Spartans to be practised upon in their 
martial exercises. The Helots were on some occasions set 
free, and fought against the enemy ; moreover, they displayed 
extraordinary valor in the ranks of the Spartans ; but on their 
return they were butchered in the most cowardly and insidious 
way. As in a slave-ship the crew are constantly armed, and 
the greatest care is taken to prevent an insurrection, so the 
Spartans exercised a constant vigilance over the Helots, and 
were always in a condition of war, as against enemies. 

Property in land was divided, even according to the consti- 
tution of Lycurgus (as Plutarch relates), into equal parts, of 
which 9,000 only belonged to the Spartans — i.e., the inhabitants 
of the city — and 30,000 to the Lacedaemonians or Periaeci. At 
the same time it was appointed, in order to maintain this equal- 
ity, that the portions of ground should not be sold. But how 
little such an institution avails to effect its object, is proved by 


the fact, that in the sequel Lacedsemon owed its ruin chiefly to 
the inequality of possessions. As daughters were capable of 
inheriting, many estates had come by marriage into the posses- 
sion of a few families, and at last all the landed property was in 
the hands of a limited number ; as if to show how foolish it is 
to attempt a forced equality — an attempt which, while ineffec- 
tive in realizing its professed object, is also destructive of a 
most essential point of liberty — the free disposition of property. 
Another remarkable feature in the legislation of Lycurgus, is 
his forbidding all money except that made of iron — an enact- 
ment which necessitated the abolition of all foreign business and 
traffic. The Spartans moreover had no naval force — a force 
indispensable to the support and furtherance of commerce; 
and on occasions when such a force was required, they had to 
apply to the Persians for it. 

It was with an especial view to promote similarity of man- 
ners, and a more intimate acquaintance of the citizens with each 
other, that the Spartans had meals in common — a community, 
however, which disparaged family life ; for eating and drinking 
is a private affair, and consequently belongs to domestic retire- 
ment. It was so regarded among the Athenians ; with them 
association was not material but spiritual, and even their ban- 
quets, as we see from Xenophon and Plato, had an intellectual 
tone. Among the Spartans, ori the other hand, the costs of the 
common meal were met by the contributions of the several 
members, and he who was too poor to offer such a contribution 
was consequently excluded. 

As to the Political Constitution of Sparta, its basis may be 
called democratic, but with considerable modifications which 
rendered it almost an Aristocracy and Oligarchy. At the head 
of the State were two Kings, at whose side was a Senate 
(ryepovcta), chosen from the best men of the State, and which 
also performed the functions of a court of justice — deciding 
rather in accordance with moral and legal customs, than with 
written laws.* The <yepov<rla was also the highest State-Council 
— the Council of the Kings, regulating the most important 
affairs. Lastly, one of the highest magistracies was that of the 
Ephors, respecting whose election we have no definite informa- 

* Otfried Miiller, in his " History of minds. But such an imprinting is al- 

the Dorians," gives too dignified an as- ways something indefinite; laws must be 

pect to this fact; he says that Justice written, that it may be distinctly known 

was, as it were, imprinted on their what is forbidden and what is allowed. 


tion ; Aristotle says that the mode of choice was exceedingly 
childish. We learn from Aristotle that even persons without 
nobility or property could attain this dignity. The Ephors had 
full authority to convoke popular assemblies, to put resolutions 
to the vote, and to propose laws, almost in the same way as the 
tribuni plebis in Rome. Their power became tyrannical, like that 
which Robespierre and his party exercised for a time in France. 
While the Lacedaemonians directed their entire attention to 
the State, Intellectual Culture — Art and Science — was not 
domiciled among them. The Spartans appeared to the rest of 
the Greeks, stiff, coarse, awkward beings, who could not trans- 
act business involving any degree of intricacy, or at least per- 
formed it very clumsily. Thucydides makes the Athenians say 
to the Spartans : " You have laws and customs which have noth- 
ing in common with others ; and besides this, you proceed, 
when you go into other countries, neither in accordance with 
these, nor with the traditionary usages of Hellas." In their 
intercourse at home, they were, on the whole, honorable ; but 
as regarded their conduct towards other nations, they them- 
selves plainly declared that they held their own good pleasure 
for the Commendable, and what was advantageous for the 
Right. It is well known that in Sparta (as was also the case in 
Egypt) the taking away of the necessaries of life, under certain 
conditions, was permitted ; only the thief must not allow him- 
self to be discovered. Thus the two States, Athens and Sparta, 
stand in contrast with each other. The morality of the latter 
is rigidly directed to the maintenance of the State ; in the 
former we find a similar ethical relation, but with a cultivated 
consciousness, and boundless activity in the production of the 
Beautiful — subsequently, of the True also. 

This Greek morality, though extremely beautiful, attrac- 
tive and interesting in its manifestation, is not the highest point 
of view for Spiritual self-consciousness. It wants the form of 
Infinity, the reflection of thought within itself, the emancipation 
from the Natural element — (the Sensuous that lurks in the char- 
acter of Beauty and Divinity [as comprehended by the Greeks]) 
— and from that immediacy, [that undeveloped simplicity,] 
which attaches to their ethics. Self-Comprehension on the part 
of Thought is wanting — illimitable Self-Consciousness — de- 
manding, that what is regarded by me as Right and Morality 
should have its confirmation in myself — from the testimony of 


my own Spirit ; that the Beautiful (the Idea as manifested in 
sensuous contemplation or conception) may also become the 
True — an inner, supersensuous world. The standpoint occu- 
pied by the ^Esthetic Spiritual Unity which we have just de- 
scribed, could not long be the resting-place of Spirit; and the 
element in which further advance and corruption originated, 
was that of Subjectivity — inward morality, individual reflection, 
and an inner life generally. The perfect bloom of Greek life 
lasted only about sixty years — from the Median wars, B.C. 492, 
to the Peloponnesian War, B.C. 431. The principle of subjective 
morality which was inevitably introduced, became the germ of 
corruption, which, however, showed itself in a different form in 
Athens from that which it assumed in Sparta: in Athens, as 
levity in public conduct, in Sparta, as private depravation of 
morals. In their fall, the Athenians showed themselves not only 
amiable, but great and noble — to such a degree that we cannot 
but lament it ; among the Spartans, on the contrary, the prin- 
ciple of subjectivity develops itself in vulgar greed, and issues 
in vulgar ruin. 

The Peloponnesian War 

The principle of corruption displayed itself first in the ex- 
ternal political development — in the contest of the states of 
Greece with each other, and the struggle of factions within the 
cities themselves. The Greek Morality had made Hellas unfit 
to form one common state ; for the dissociation of small states 
from each other, and the concentration in cities, where the in- 
terest and the spiritual culture pervading the whole, could be 
identical, was the necessary condition of that grade of Free- 
dom which the Greeks occupied. It was only a momentary 
combination that occurred in the Trojan War, and even in the 
Median wars a union could not be accomplished. Although the 
tendency towards such a union is discoverable, the bond was 
but weak, its permanence was always endangered by jealousy, 
and the contest for the Hegemony set the States at variance 
with each other. A general outbreak of hostilities in the Pelo- 
ponnesian War was the consummation. Before it, and even at 
its commencement, Pericles was at the head of the Athenian 
nation — that people most jealous of its liberty ; it was only his 
elevated personality and great genius that enabled him to main- 
tain his position. After the wars with the Medes, Athens enjoyed 


the Hegemony ; a number of allies — partly islands, partly towns 
— were obliged to contribute to the supplies required for con- 
tinuing the war against the Persians ; and instead of the con- 
tribution being made in the form of fleets or troops, the subsidy 
was paid in money. Thereby an immense power was concen- 
trated in Athens ; a part of the money was expended in great 
architectural works, in the enjoyment of which, since they were 
products of Spirit, the allies had some share. But that Pericles 
did not devote the whole of the money to works of Art, but also 
made provision for the Demos in other ways, was evident after 
his death, from the quantity of stores amassed in several maga- 
zines, but especially in the naval arsenal. Xenophon says: 
" Who does not stand in need of Athens ? Is she not indispen- 
sable to all lands that are rich in corn and herds, in oil and wine 
— to all who wish to traffic either in money or in mind? — to 
craftsmen, sophists, philosophers, poets, and all who desire what 
is worth seeing or hearing in sacred and public matters ? " 

In the Peloponnesian War, the struggle was essentially be- 
tween Athens and Sparta. Thucydides has left us the history 
of the greater part of it, and his immortal work is the absolute 
gain which humanity has derived from that contest. Athens 
allowed herself to be hurried into the extravagant projects of 
Alcibiades; and when these had already much weakened her, 
she was compelled to succumb to the Spartans, who were guilty 
of the treachery of applying for aid to Persia, and who obtained 
from the King supplies of money and a naval force. They were 
also guilty of a still more extensive treason, in abolishing de- 
mocracy in Athens and in the cities of Greece generally, and in 
giving a preponderance to factions that desired oligarchy, but 
were not strong enough to maintain themselves without foreign 
assistance. Lastly, in the peace of Antalcidas, Sparta put the 
finishing stroke to her treachery, by giving over the Greek 
cities in Asia Minor to Persian dominion. 

Lacedsemon had therefore, both by the oligarchies which it 
had set up in various countries, and by the garrisons which it 
maintained in some cities — as, e.g., Thebes — obtained a great 
preponderance in Greece. But the Greek states were far more 
incensed at Spartan oppression than they had previously been 
at Athenian supremacy. With Thebes at their head, they cast 
off the yoke, and the Thebans became for a moment the most 
distinguished people in Hellas. But it was to two distinguished 


men among its citizens that Thebes owed its entire power — 
Pelopidas and Epaminondas; as for the most part in that state 
we find the Subjective preponderant. In accordance with this 
principle, Lyrical Poetry — that which is the expression of sub- 
jectivity — especially flourished there; a kind of subjective 
amenity of nature shows itself also in the so-called Sacred 
Legion which formed the kernel of the Theban host, and was 
regarded as consisting of persons connected by amatory bonds 
[amantes and amati] ; while the influence of subjectivity among 
them was especially proved by the fact, that after the death of 
Epaminondas, Thebes fell back into its former position. Weak- 
ened and distracted, Greece could no longer find safety in itself, 
and needed an authoritative prop. In the towns there were 
incessant contests; the citizens were divided into factions, as 
in the Italian cities of the Middle Ages. The victory of one 
party entailed the banishment of the other; the latter then 
usually applied to the enemies of their native city, to obtain 
their aid in subjugating it by force of arms. The various States 
could no longer co-exist peaceably: they prepared ruin for 
each other, as well as for themselves. 

We have, then, now to investigate the corruption of the Greek 
world in its profounder import, and may denote the principle of 
that corruption as subjectivity obtaining emancipation for itself. 
We see Subjectivity obtruding itself in various ways. Thought 
— the subjectively Universal — menaces the beautiful religion of 
Greece, while the passions of individuals and their caprice men- 
ace its political constitution. In short, Subjectivity, compre- 
hending and manifesting itself, threatens the existing state of 
things in every department — characterized as that state of 
things is by Immediacy [a primitive, unreflecting simplicity]. 
Thought, therefore, appears here as the principle of decay — 
decay, viz. of Substantial [prescriptive] morality ; for it intro- 
duces an antithesis, and asserts essentially rational principles. 
In the Oriental states, in which there is no such antithesis, 
moral freedom cannot be realized, since the highest principle is 
[Pure] Abstraction. But when Thought recognizes its positive 
character, as in Greece, it estabishes principles; and these bear 
to the real world the relation of Essence to Form. For the 
concrete vitality found among the Greeks, is Customary Moral- 
ity — a life for Religion, for the State, without further reflection, 
and without analysis leading to abstract definitions, which must 


lead away from the concrete embodiment of them, and occupy 
an antithetical position to that embodiment. Law is part of 
the existing state of things, with Spirit implicit in it. But as soon 
as Thought arises, it investigates the various political constitu- 
tions : as the result of its investigation it forms for itself an 
idea of an improved state of society, and demands that this ideal 
should take the place of things as they are. 

In the principle of Greek Freedom, inasmuch as it is Free- 
dom, is involved the self-emancipation of Thought. We ob- 
served the dawn of Thought in the circle of men mentioned 
above under their well-known appellation of the Seven Sages. It 
was they who first uttered general propositions ; though at that 
time wisdom consisted rather in a concrete insight [into things, 
than in the power of abstract conception]. Parallel with the 
advance in the development of Religious Art and with political 
growth, we find a progressive strengthening of Thought, its 
enemy and destroyer; and at the time of the Peloponnesian 
War science was already developed. With the Sophists began 
the process of reflection on the existing state of things, and of 
ratiocination. That very diligence and activity which we ob- 
served among the Greeks in their practical life, and in the 
achievement of works of art, showed itself also in the turns and 
windings which these ideas took ; so that, as material things are 
changed, worked up and used for other than their original pur- 
poses, similarly the essential being of Spirit — what is thought 
and known — is variously handled; it is made an object about 
which the mind can employ itself, and this occupation becomes 
an interest in and for itself. The movement of Thought — that 
which goes on within its sphere [without reference to an ex- 
trinsic object] — a process which had formerly no interest — ac- 
quires attractiveness on its own account. The cultivated Soph' 
ists, who were not erudite or scientific men, but masters of subtle 
turns of thought, excited the admiration of the Greeks. For all 
questions they had an answer ; for all interests of a political or 
religious order they had general points of view; and in the 
ultimate development of their art, they claimed the ability to 
prove everything, to discover a justifiable side in every position. 
In a democracy it is a matter of the first importance, to be able 
to speak in popular assemblies — to urge one's opinions on pub- 
lic matters. Now this demands the power of duly presenting 
before them that point of view which we desire them to regard 


as essential. For such a purpose, intellectual culture is needed, 
and this discipline the Greeks acquired under their Sophists. 
This mental culture then became the means, in the hands of 
those who possessed it, of enforcing their views and interests 
on the Demos : the expert Sophist knew how to turn the sub- 
ject of discussion this way or that way at pleasure, and thus 
the doors were thrown wide open to all human passions. A 
leading principle of the Sophists was, that " Man is the measure 
of all things " ; but in this, as in all their apophthegms, lurks an 
ambiguity, since the term " Man " may denote Spirit in its depth 
and truth, or in the aspect of mere caprice and private interest. 
The Sophists meant Man simply as subjective, and intended in 
this dictum of theirs, that mere liking was the principle of 
Right, and that advantage to the individual was the ground of 
final appeal. This Sophistic principle appears again and again, 
though under different forms, in various periods of History; 
thus even in our own times subjective opinion of what is right 
— mere feeling — is made the ultimate ground of decision. 

In Beauty, as the Greek principle, there was a concrete unity 
of Spirit, united with Reality, with Country and Family, etc. In 
this unity no fixed point of view had as yet been adopted within 
the Spirit itself, and Thought, as far as it transcended this unity, 
was still swayed by mere liking ; [the Beautiful, the Becoming 
(to Trpeirov) conducted men in the path of moral propriety, but 
apart from this they had no firm abstract principle of Truth and 
Virtue]. But Anaxagoras himself had taught, that Thought 
itself was the absolute Essence of the World. And it was in 
Socrates, that at the beginning of the Peloponnesian War, the 
principle of subjectivity — of the absolute inherent independence 
of Thought — attained free expression. He taught that man has 
to discover and recognize in himself what is the Right and 
Good, and that this Right and Good is in its nature universal. 
Socrates is celebrated as a Teacher of Morality, but we should 
rather call him the Inventor of Morality. The Greeks had a 
customary morality ; but Socrates undertook to teach them what 
moral virtues, duties, etc. were. The moral man is not he who 
merely wills and does that which is right — not the merely inno- 
cent man — but he who has the consciousness of what he is 

Socrates — in assigning to insight, to conviction, the deter- 
mination of men's actions — posited the Individual as capable 


of a final moral decision, in contraposition to Country and to 
Customary Morality, and thus made himself an Oracle, in the 
Greek sense. He said that he had a Bcujaoviov within him, which 
counselled him what to do, and revealed to him what was ad- 
vantageous to his friends. The rise of the inner world of Sub- 
jectivity was the rupture with the existing Reality. Though 
Socrates himself continued to perform his duties as a citizen, 
it was not the actual State and its religion, but the world of 
Thought that was his true home. Now the question of the ex- 
istence and nature of the gods came to be discussed. The dis- 
ciple of Socrates, Plato, banished from his ideal state, Homer 
and Hesiod, the originators of that mode of conceiving of relig- 
ious objects which prevailed among the Greeks ; for he desid- 
erated a higher conception of what was to be reverenced as 
divine — one more in harmony with Thought. Many citizens 
now seceded from practical and political life, to live in the ideal 
world. The principle of Socrates manifests a revolutionary 
aspects towards the Athenian State ; for the peculiarity of this 
State was, that Customary Morality was the form in which its 
existence was moulded, viz. — an inseparable connection of 
Thought with actual life. When Socrates wishes to induce his 
friends to reflection, the discourse has always a negative tone ; 
he brings them to the consciousness that they do not know 
what the Right is. But when on account of the giving utterance 
to that principle which was advancing to recognition, Socrates 
is condemned to death, the sentence bears on the one hand the 
aspect of unimpeachable rectitude — inasmuch as the Athenian 
people condemns its deadliest foe — but on the other hand, that 
of a deeply tragical character, inasmuch as the Athenians had to 
make the discovery, that what they reprobated in Socrates had 
already struck firm root among themselves, and that they must 
be pronounced guilty or innocent with him. With this feeling 
they condemned the accusers of Socrates, and declared him 
guiltless. In Athens that higher principle which proved the 
ruin of the Athenian state, advanced in its development without 
intermission. Spirit had acquired the propensity to gain sat- 
isfaction for itself — to reflect. Even in decay the Spirit of 
Athens appears majestic, because it manifests itself as the free, 
the liberal — exhibiting its successive phases in their pure 
idiosyncrasy — in that form in which they really exist. Amiable 
and cheerful even in the midst of tragedy is the light-hearted- 


ness and nonchalance with which the Athenians accompany 
their [national] morality to its grave. We recognize the higher 
interest of the new culture in the fact that the people made them- 
selves merry over their own follies, and found great entertain- 
ment in the comedies of Aristophanes, which have the severest 
satire for their contents, while they bear the stamp of the most 
unbridled mirth. 

In Sparta the same corruption is introduced, since the social 
unit seeks to assert his individuality against the moral life of 
the community : but there we have merely the isolated side of 
particular subjectivity — corruption in its undisguised form, 
blank immorality, vulgar selfishness and venality. All these 
passions manifest themselves in Sparta, especially in the per- 
sons of its generals, who, for the most part living at a distance 
from their country, obtain an opportunity of securing advan- 
tages at the expense of their own state as well as of those to 
whose assistance they are sent. 

The Macedonian Empire 

After the fall of Athens, Sparta took upon herself the Hege- 
mony; but misused it — as already mentioned — so selfishly, 
that she was universally hated. Thebes could not long sustain 
the part of humiliating Sparta, and was at last exhausted in the 
war with the Phocians. The Spartans and the Phocians — ■ 
the former because they had surprised the citadel of Thebes, the 
latter because they had tilled a piece of land belonging to the 
Delphin Apollo — had been sentenced to pay considerable sums 
of money. Both states however refused payment ; for the Am- 
phictyonic Council had not much more authority than the old 
German Diet, which the German princes obeyed only so far as 
suited their inclination. The Phocians were then to be pun- 
ished by the Thebans ; but by an egregious piece of violence — 
by desecrating and plundering the temple at Delphi — the former 
attained momentary superiority. This deed completes the ruin 
of Greece ; the sanctuary was desecrated, the god so to speak, 
killed ; the last support of unity was thereby annihilated ; rev- 
erence for that which in Greece had been as it were always the 
final arbiter — its monarchical principle — was displaced, in- 
sulted, and trodden under foot. 

The next step in advance is then that quite simple one, that 
the place of the dethroned oracle should be taken by another 



deciding will — a real authoritative royalty. The foreign Mace- 
donian King — Philip — undertook to avenge the violation of the 
oracle, and forthwith took its place, by making himself lord of 
Greece. Philip reduced under his dominion the Hellenic States, 
and convinced them that it was all over with their independence, 
and that they could no longer maintain their own footing. The 
charge of littleness, harshness, violence, and political treachery 
— all those hateful characteristics with which Philip has so often 
been reproached — did not extend to the young Alexander, when 
he placed himself at the head of the Greeks. He had no need 
to incur such reproaches ; he had not to form a military force, 
for he found one already in existence. As he had only to mount 
Bucephalus, and take the rein in hand, to make him obsequious 
to his will, just so he found that Macedonian phalanx prepared 
for his purpose — that rigid well-trained iron mass, the power 
of which had been demonstrated under Philip, who copied it 
from Epaminondas. 

Alexander had been educated by the deepest and also the 
most comprehensive thinker of antiquity — Aristotle ; and the 
education was worthy of the man who had undertaken it. Alex- 
ander was initiated into the profoundest metaphysics: there- 
fore his nature was thoroughly refined and liberated from the 
customary bonds of mere opinion, crudities and idle fancies. 
Aristotle left this grand nature as untrammelled as it was before 
his instructions commenced ; but impressed upon it a deep per- 
ception of what the True is, and formed the spirit which nature 
had so richly endowed to a plastic being, rolling freely like an 
orb through its circumambient ether. 

Thus accomplished, Alexander placed himself at the head of 
the Hellenes, in order to lead Greece over into Asia. A youth 
of twenty, he commanded a thoroughly experienced army, 
whose generals were all veterans, well versed in the art of war. 
It was Alexander's aim to avenge Greece for all that Asia had 
inflicted upon it for so many years, and to fight out at last the 
ancient feud and contest between the East and the West. While 
in this struggle he retaliated upon the Oriental world what 
Greece had suffered from it, he also made a return for the rudi- 
ments of culture which had been derived thence by spreading 
the maturity and culmination of that culture over the East; 
and, as it were, changed the stamp of subjugated Asia and 
assimilated it to a Hellenic land. The grandeur and the inter- 


est of this work were proportioned to his genius — to his pecu- 
liar youthful individuality — the like of which in so beautiful a 
form we have not seen a second time at the head of such an 
undertaking. For not only were the genius of a commander, 
the greatest spirit, and consummate bravery united in him, but 
all these qualities were dignified by the beauty of his character 
as a man and an individual. Though his generals were devoted 
to him, they had been the long tried servants of his father; 
and this made his position difficult: for his greatness and 
youth was a humiliation to them, as inclined to regard them- 
selves and the achievements of the past, as a complete work; 
so that while their envy, as in Clitus's case, arose to blind rage, 
Alexander also was excited to great violence. 

Alexander's expedition to Asia was at the same time a jour- 
ney of discovery ; for it was he who first opened the Oriental 
World to the Europeans, and penetrated into countries — as 
e.g. Bactria, Sogdiana, northern India — which have since been 
hardly visited by Europeans. The arrangement of the march, 
and not less the military genius displayed in the disposition of 
battles, and in tactics generally, will always remain an object 
of admiration. He was great as a commander in battles, wise 
in conducting marches and marshalling troops, and the bravest 
soldier in the thick of the fight. Even the death of Alexander, 
which occurred at Babylon in the three-and-thirtieth year of his 
age, gives us a beautiful spectacle of his greatness, and shows 
m what relation he stood to his army : for he takes leave of it 
with the perfect consciousness of his dignity. 

Alexander had the good fortune to die at the proper time; 
i.e. it may be called good fortune, but it is rather a necessity. 
That he may stand before the eyes of posterity as a youth, an 
early death must hurry him away. Achilles, as remarked above, 
begins the Greek world, and his autotype Alexander concludes 
it : and these youths not only supply a picture of the fairest kind 
in their own persons, but at the same time afford a complete and 
perfect type of Hellenic existence. Alexander finished his work 
and completed his ideal; and thus bequeathed to the world 
one of the noblest and most brilliant of visions, which our poor 
reflections only serve to obscure. For the great World-His- 
torical form of Alexander, the modern standard applied by re- 
cent historical " Philistines " — that of virtue or morality — will 
by no means suffice. And if it be alleged in depreciation of his 


merit, that he had no successor, and left behind no dynasty, we 
may remark that the Greek kingdoms that arose in Asia after 
him, are his dynasty. For two years he was engaged in a cam- 
paign in Bactria, which brought him into contact with the Mas- 
sagetse and Scythians; and there arose the Graeco-Bactrian 
kingdom which lasted for two centuries. Thence the Greeks 
came into connection with India, and even with China. The 
Greek dominion spread itself over northern India, and San- 
drokottus (Chandraguptas) is mentioned as the first who eman- 
cipated himself from it. The same name presents itself indeed 
among the Hindoos, but for reasons already stated, we can 
place very little dependence upon such mention. Other Greek 
Kingdoms arose in Asia Minor, in Armenia, in Syria and Baby- 
lonia. But Egypt especially, among the kingdoms of the suc- 
cessors of Alexander, became a great centre of science and art ; 
for a great number of its architectural works belong to the time 
of the Ptolemies, as has been made out from the deciphered in- 
scriptions. Alexandria became the chief centre of commerce — 
the point of union for Eastern manners and tradition with West- 
ern civilization. Besides these, the Macedonian Kingdom, that 
of Thrace, stretching beyond the Danube, that of Illyria, and 
that of Epirus, flourished under the sway of Greek princes. 

Alexander was also extraordinarily attached to the sciences, 
and he is celebrated as next to Pericles the most liberal patron 
of the arts. Meier says in his " History of Art," that his intelli- 
gent love of art would have secured him an immortality of 
fame not less than his conquests. 



THIS third period in the history of the Hellenic World, 
which embraces the protracted development of the evil 
destiny of Greece, interests us less. Those who had been 
Alexander's Generals, now assuming an independent appearance 
on the stage of history as Kings, carried on long wars with each 
other, and experienced, almost all of them, the most romantic 
revolutions of fortune. Especially remarkable and prominent 
in this respect is the life of Demetrius Poliorcetes. 

In Greece the States had preserved their existence : brought 
to a consciousness of their weakness by Philip and Alexander, 
they contrived to enjoy an apparent vitality, and boasted of an 
unreal independence. That self-consciousness which inde- 
pendence confers, they could not have; and diplomatic statesmen 
took the lead in the several States — orators who were not at the 
same time generals, as was the case formerly — e.g. in the person 
of Pericles. The countries of Greece now assume various rela- 
tions to the different monarchs, who continued to contend for 
the sovereignty of the Greek States — partly also for their favor, 
especially for that of Athens : for Athens still presented an im- 
posing figure — if not as a Power, yet certainly as the centre of 
the higher arts and sciences, especially of Philosophy and Rhet- 
oric. Besides it kept itself more free from the gross excess, 
coarseness and passions which prevailed in the other States, and 
made them contemptible ; and the Syrian and Egyptian kings 
deemed it an honor to make Athens large presents of corn and 
other useful supplies. To some extent too the kings of the 
period reckoned it their greatest glory to render and to keep 
the Greek cities and states independent. The Emancipation of 
Greece had as it were, become the general watch-word ; and it 
passed for a high title of fame to be called the Deliverer of 
Greece. If we examine the hidden political bearing of this word, 

Vol. 23 M _ Classics 


we shall find that it denotes the prevention of any indigenous 
Greek State from obtaining decided superiority, and keeping 
all in a state of weakness by separation and disorganization. 

The special peculiarity by which each Greek State was dis- 
tinguished from the others consisted in a difference similar to 
that of their glorious divinities, each one of whom has his par- 
ticular character and peculiar being, yet so that this peculiarity 
does not derogate from the divinity common to all. When 
therefore, this divinity has become weak and has vanished from 
the States, nothing but the bare particularity remains — the 
repulsive speciality which obstinately and waywardly asserts 
itself, and which on that very account assumes a position of 
absolute dependence and of conflict with others. Yet the feel- 
ing of weakness and misery led to combinations here and there. 
The Mtolians and their allies as a predatory people, set up in- 
justice, violence, fraud, and insolence to others, as their char- 
ter of rights. Sparta was governed by infamous tyrants and 
odious passions, and in this condition was dependent on the 
Macedonian Kings. The Boeotian subjective character had, 
after the extinction of Theban glory, sunk down into indolence 
and the vulgar desire of coarse sensual enjoyment. The Achaean 
league distinguished itself by the aim of its union (the expulsion 
of Tyrants,) by rectitude and the sentiment of community. But 
this too was obliged to take refuge in the most complicated 
policy. What we see here on the whole is a diplomatic condi- 
tion — an infinite involvement with the most manifold foreign 
interests — a subtle intertexture and play of parties, whose 
threads are continually being combined anew. 

In the internal condition of the states, which, enervated by 
selfishness and debauchery, were broken up into factions — each 
of which on the other hand directs its attention to foreign lands, 
and with treachery to its native country begs for the favors of 
the Kings — the point of interest is no longer the fate of these 
states, but the great individuals, who arise amid the general 
corruption, and honorably devote themselves to their country. 
They appear as great tragic characters, who with their genius, 
and the most intense exertion, are yet unable to extirpate the 
evils in question ; and perish in the struggle, without having 
had the satisfaction of restoring to their fatherland repose, order 
and freedom, nay, even without having secured a reputation 
with posterity free from all stain. Livy says in his prefatory 


remarks : " In our times we can neither endure our faults nor 
the means of correcting them." And this is quite as applicable 
to these Last of the Greeks, who began an undertaking which 
was as honorable and noble, as it was sure of being frustrated. 
Agis and Cleomenes, Aratus and Philopcemen, thus sunk under 
the struggle for the good of their nation. Plutarch sketches for 
us a highly characteristic picture of these times, in giving us a 
representation of the importance of individuals during their 

The third period of the history of the Greeks brings us to 
their contact with that people which was to play the next part 
on the theatre of the World's History ; and the chief excuse 
for this contact was — as pretexts had previously been — the 
liberation of Greece. After Perseus the last Macedonian King, 
in the year 168 b.c. had been conquered by the Romans and 
brought in triumph to Rome, the Achaean league was attacked 
and broken up, and at last in the year 146 B.C. Corinth was 
destroyed. Looking at Greece as Polybius describes it, we 
see how a noble nature such as his, has nothing left for it but 
to despair at the state of affairs and to retreat into Philosophy ; 
or if it attempts to act, can only die in the struggle. In deadly 
contraposition to the multiform variety of passion which 
Greece presents — that distracted condition which whelms good 
and evil in one common ruin — Stands a blind fate — an iron 
power ready to show up that degraded condition in all its 
weakness, and to dash it to pieces in miserable ruin ; for cure, 
amendment, and consolation are impossible. And this crush- 
ing Destiny is the Roman power. 



NAPOLEON, in a conversation which he once had with 
Goethe on the nature of Tragedy, expressed the opin- 
ion that its modern phase differed from the ancient, 
through our no longer recognizing a Destiny to which men are 
absolutely subject, and that Policy occupies the place of the 
ancient Fate [La politique est la fatalite]. This therefore he 
thought must be used as the modern form of Destiny in Trag- 
edy — the irresistible power of circumstances to which individ- 
uality must bend. Such a power is the Roman World, chosen 
for the very purpose of casting the moral units into bonds, as 
also of collecting all Deities and all Spirits into the Pantheon 
of Universal dominion, in order to make out of them an ab- 
stract universality of power. The distinction between the 
Roman and the Persian principle is exactly this — that the former 
stifles all vitality, while the latter allowed of its existence in the 
fullest measure. Through its being the aim of the State, that 
the social units in their moral life should be sacrificed to it, the 
world is sunk in melancholy : its heart is broken, and it is all 
over with the Natural side of Spirit, which has sunk into a feel- 
ing of unhappiness. Yet only from this feeling could arise the 
supersensuous, the free Spirit in Christianity. 

In the Greek principle we have seen spiritual existence in its 
exhilaration — its cheerfulness and enjoyment: Spirit had not 
yet drawn back into abstraction ; it was still involved with the 
Natural element — the idiosyncrasy of individuals ; — on which 
account the virtues of individuals themselves became moral 
works of art. Abstract universal Personality had not yet ap- 
peared, for Spirit must first develop itself to that form of abstract 
Universality which exercised the severe discipline over human- 
ity now under consideration. Here, in Rome, then, we find that 



free universality, that abstract Freedom, which on the one hand 
sets an abstract state, a political constitution and power, over 
concrete individuality; on the other side creates a personality 
in opposition to that universality — the inherent freedom of the 
abstract Ego, which must be distinguished from individual 
idiosyncrasy. For Personality constitutes the fundamental con- 
dition of legal Right : it appears chiefly in the category of Prop- 
erty, but it is indifferent to the concrete characteristics of the 
living Spirit with which individuality is concerned. These two 
elements, which constitute Rome — political Universality on the 
one hand, and the abstract freedom of the individual on the 
other — appear, in the first instance, in the form of Subjectivity. 
This Subjectivity — this retreating into one's self which we ob- 
served as the corruption of the Greek Spirit — becomes here the 
ground on which a new side of the World's History arises. In 
considering the Roman World, we have not to do with a con- 
cretely spiritual life, rich in itself ; but the world-historical ele- 
ment in it is the abstr actum of Universality, and the object which 
is pursued with soulless and heartless severity, is mere dominion, 
in order to enforce that abstractum. 

In Greece, Democracy was the fundamental condition of po- 
litical life, as in the East, Despotism; here we have Aristocracy 
of a rigid order, in a state of opposition to the people. In Greece 
also the Democracy was rent asunder, but only in the way of 
factions ; in Rome it is principles that keep the entire com- 
munity in a divided state — they occupy a hostile position 
towards, and struggle with each other: first the Aristocracy 
with the Kings, then the Plebs with the Aristocracy, till De- 
mocracy gets the upper hand ; then first arise factions in which 
originated that later aristocracy of commanding individuals 
which subjugated the world. It is this dualism that, properly 
speaking, marks Rome's inmost being. 

Erudition has regarded the Roman History from various 
points of view, and has adopted very different and opposing 
opinions : this is especially the case with the more ancient part 
of the history, which has been taken up by three different classes 
of literati — Historians, Philologists, and Jurists. The His- 
torians hold to the grand features, and show respect for the 
history as such ; so that we may after all see our way best under 
their guidance, since they allow the validity of the records in 
the case of leading events. It is otherwise with the Philologists, 


by whom generally received traditions are less regarded, ancf 
who devote more attention to small details which can be com- 
bined in various ways. These combinations gain a footing first 
as historical hypotheses, but soon after as established facts. 
To the same degree as the Philologists in their department, 
have the Jurists in that of Roman law, instituted the minutest 
examination and involved their inferences with hypothesis. 
The result is that the most ancient part of Roman History has 
been declared to be nothing but fable ; so that this department 
of inquiry is brought entirely within the province of learned 
criticism, which always finds the most to do where the least is 
to be got for the labor. While on the one side the poetry and 
the myths of the Greeks are said to contain profound historical 
truths, and are thus transmuted into history, the Romans on the 
contrary have myths and poetical views affiliated upon them ; 
and epopees are affirmed to be at the basis of what has been 
hitherto taken for prosaic and historical. 

With these preliminary remarks we proceed to describe the 

The Roman World has its centre in Italy ; which is extremely 
similar to Greece, and, like it, forms a peninsula, only not so 
deeply indented. Within this country, the city of Rome itself 
formed the centre of the centre. Napoleon in his Memoirs takes 
up the question, which city — if Italy were independent and 
formed a totality — would be best adapted for its capital. Rome, 
Venice, and Milan may put forward claims to the honor; but 
it is immediately evident that none of these cities would supply 
a centre. Northern Italy constitutes a basin of the river Po, 
and is quite distinct from the body of the peninsula; Venice 
is connected only with Higher Italy, not with the south ; Rome, 
on the other hand, would, perhaps, be naturally a centre for 
Middle and Lower Italy, but only artificially and violently for 
those lands which were subjected to it in Higher Italy. The 
Roman State rests geographically, as well as historically, on the 
element of force. 

The locality of Italy, then, presents no natural unity — as the 
valley of the Nile; the unity was similar to that which Mace- 
donia by its sovereignty gave to Greece; though Italy wanted 
that permeation by one spirit, which Greece possessed through 
equality of culture; for it was inhabited by very various races. 
Niebuhr has prefaced his Roman history by a profoundly erudite 


treatise on the peoples of Italy; but from which no connection 
between them and the Roman History is visible. In fact, 
Niebuhr's History can only be regarded as a criticism of Roman 
History, for it consists of a series of treatises which by no means 
possess the unity of history. 

We observed subjective inwardness as the general principle 
of the Roman World. The course of Roman History, therefore, 
involves the expansion of undeveloped subjectivity — inward 
conviction of existence — to the visibility of the real world. The 
principle of subjective inwardness receives positive application 
in the first place only from without — through the particular voli- 
tion of the sovereignty, the government, etc. The development 
consists in the purification of inwardness to abstract personality, 
which gives itself reality in the existence of private property; 
the mutually repellent social units can then be held together only 
by despotic power. The general course of the Roman World 
may be defined as this; the transition from the inner sanctum 
of subjectivity to its direct opposite. The development is here 
not of the same kind as that in Greece — the unfolding and ex- 
panding of its own substance on the part of the principle; but 
it is the transition to its opposite, which latter does not appear as 
an element of corruption, but is demanded and posited by the 
principle itself. — As to the particular sections of the Roman 
History, the common division is that into the Monarchy, the Re- 
public, and the Empire — as if in these forms different principles 
made their appearance; but the same principle — that of the 
Roman Spirit — underlies their development. In our division, 
we must rather keep in view the course of History generally. 
The annals of every World-historical people were divided above 
into three periods, and this statement must prove itself true in 
this case also. The first period comprehends the rudiments of 
Rome, in which the elements which are essentially opposed, still 
repose in calm unity; until the contrarieties have acquired 
strength, and the unity of the State becomes a powerful one, 
through that antithetical condition having been produced and 
maintained within it. In this vigorous condition the State 
directs its forces outwards — i.e., in the second period — and makes 
its debut on the theatre of general history; this is the noblest 
period of Rome — the Punic Wars and the contact with the ante- 
cedent World-Historical people. A wider stage is opened, 
towards the East; the history at the epoch of this contact has 


been treated by the noble Polybius. The Roman Empire now 
acquired that world-conquering extension which paved the way 
for its fall. Internal distraction supervened, while the antithesis 
was developing itself to self-contradiction and utter incompati- 
bility; it closes with Despotism, which marks the third period. 
The Roman power appears here in its pomp and splendor; but 
it is at the same time profoundly ruptured within itself, and the 
Christian Religion, which begins with the imperial dominion, 
receives a great extension. The third period comprises the con- 
tact of Rome with the North and the German peoples, whose 
turn is now come to play their part in History. 




Chapter I. — The Elements of the Roman Spirit 

BEFORE we come to the Roman History, we have to con- 
sider the Elements of the Roman Spirit in general, and 
mention and investigate the origin of Rome with a ref- 
erence to them. Rome arose outside recognised countries, viz., 
in an angle where three different districts met — those of the 
Latins, Sabines and Etruscans; it was not formed from some 
ancient stem, connected by natural patriarchal bonds, whose 
origin might be traced up to remote times (as seems to have 
been the case with the Persians, who, however, even then ruled 
a large empire); but Rome was from the very beginning, of 
artificial and violent, not spontaneous growth. It is related that 
the descendants of the Trojans, led by yEneas to Italy, founded 
Rome; for the connection with Asia was a much cherished 
tradition, and there are in Italy, France, and Germany itself 
(Xanten) many towns which refer their origin, or their names, 
to the fugitive Trojans. Livy speaks of the ancient tribes of 
Rome, the Ramnenses, Titienses, and Luceres. Now if we look 
upon these as distinct nations, and assert that they were really 
the elements from which Rome was formed — a view which in 
recent times has very often striven to obtain currency — we di- 
rectly subvert the historical tradition. All historians agree that 
at an early period, shepherds, under the leadership of chieftains, 
roved about on the hills of Rome; that the first Roman com- 
munity constituted itself as a predatory state; and that it was 
with difficulty that the scattered inhabitants of the vicinity were 
thus united. The details of these circumstances are also given 
Those predatory shepherds received every contribution to their 
community that chose to join them (Livy calls it a colluvies). 
The rabble of all the three districts between which Rome lay, was 



collected in the new city. The historians state that this point 
was very well chosen on a hill close to the river, and particularly 
adapted to make it an asylum for all delinquents. It is equally 
historical that in the newly formed state there were no women, 
and that the neighboring states would enter into no connubia 
with it: both circumstances characterize it as predatory union, 
with which the other states wished to have no connection. They 
also refused the invitation to their religious festivals; and only 
the Sabines — a simple agricultural people, among whom, as 
Livy says, prevailed a tristis atque tetrica supcrstitio — partly from 
superstition, partly from fear, presented themselves at them. 
The seizure of the Sabine women is also a universally received 
historical fact. This circumstance itself involves a very char- 
acteristic feature, viz., that Religion is used as a means for 
furthering the purposes of the infant State. Another method 
of extension was the conveying to Rome of the inhabitants of 
neighboring and conquered towns. At a later date there was 
also a voluntary migration of foreigners to Rome; as in the case 
of the so celebrated family of the Claudii, bringing their whole 
clientela. The Corinthian Demaratus, belonging to a family of 
consideration, had settled in Etruria; but as being an exile and a 
foreigner, he was little respected there, and his son, Lucumo, 
could no longer endure this degradation. He betook himself to 
Rome, says Livy, because a new people and a repentin a atque ex 
virtute nobilitas were to be found there. Lucumo attained, we 
are told, such a degree of respect, that he afterwards became 

It is this peculiarity in the founding of the State which must 
be regarded as the essential basis of the idiosyncrasy of Rome. 
For it directly involves the severest discipline, and self-sacrifice 
to the grand object of the union. A State which had first to 
form itself, and which is based on force, must be held together 
by force. It is not a moral, liberal connection, but a compulsory 
condition of subordination, that results from such an origin. 
The Roman virtus is valor; not, however, the merely personal, 
but that which is essentially connected with a union of associ- 
ates; which union is regarded as the supreme interest, and may 
be combined with lawless violence of all kinds. While the 
Romans formed a union of this kind, they were not, indeed, like 
the Lacedaemonians, engaged in an internal contest with a 
conquered and subjugated people; but there arose a distinction 


and a struggle between Patricians and Plebeians. This distinc- 
tion was mythically adumbrated in the hostile brothers, Romu- 
lus and Remus. Remus was buried on the Aventine mount; 
this is consecrated to the eVil genii, and to it are directed the 
Secessions of the Plebs. The question comes, then, how this 
distinction originated ? It has been already said, that Rome was 
formed by robber-herdsmen, and the concourse of rabble of all 
sorts. At a later date, the inhabitants of captured and destroyed 
towns were also conveyed thither. The weaker, the poorer, the 
later additions of population are naturally underrated by, and 
in a condition of dependence upon those who originally founded 
the state, and those who were distinguished by valor, and also by 
wealth. It is not necessary, therefore, to take refuge in a hy- 
pothesis which has recently been a favorite one — that the Patri- 
cians formed a particular race. 

The dependence of the Plebeians on the Patricians is often 
represented as a perfectly legal relation — indeed, even a sacred 
one ; since the Patricians had the sacra in their hands, while the 
plebs would have been godless, as it were, without them. The 
Plebeians left to the Patricians their hypocritical stuff (ad de- 
cipiendam plebem, Cic.) and cared nothing for their sacra and 
auguries ; but in disjoining political rights from these ritual ob- 
servances, and making good their claim to those rights, they, 
were no more guilty of a presumptuous sacrilege than the 
Protestants, when they emancipated the political power of the 
State, and asserted the freedom of conscience. The light in 
which, as previously stated, we must regard the relation of the 
Patricians and Plebeians is, that those who were poor, and con- 
sequently helpless, were compelled to attach themselves to the 
richer and more respectable, and to seek for their patrocinium: 
in this relation of protection on the part of the more wealthy, the 
protected are called clientes. But we find very soon a fresh dis- 
tinction between the plebs and the clientes. In the contentions 
between the Patricians and the Plebeians, the clientes held to 
their patroni, though belonging to the plebs as decidedly as any 
class. That this relation of the clientes had not the stamp of 
right and law is evident from the fact, that with the introduction 
and knowledge of the laws among all classes, the cliental rela- 
tion gradually vanished ; for as soon as individuals found pro- 
tection in the law, the temporary necessity for it could not but 


In the first predatory period of the state, every citizen was 
necessarily a soldier, for the state was based on war ; this burden 
was oppressive, since every citizen was obliged to maintain 
himself in the field. This circumstance, therefore, gave rise to 
the contracting of enormous debts — the Patricians becoming 
the creditors of the Plebeians. With the introduction of laws, 
this arbitrary relation necessarily ceased; but only gradually, 
for the Patricians were far from being immediately inclined to 
release the plebs from the cliental relation ; they rather strove to 
render it permanent. The laws of the Twelve Tables still con- 
tained much that was undefined ; very much was still left to the 
arbitrary will of the judge — the Patricians alone being judges; 
the antithesis, therefore, between Patricians and Plebeians, con- 
tinues till a much later period. Only by degrees do the Plebe- 
ians scale all the heights of official station, and attain those 
privileges which formerly belonged to the Patricians alone. 

In the life of the Greeks, although it did not any more than 
that of the Romans originate in the patriarchal relation, Family 
love and the Family tie appeared at its very commencement, and 
the peaceful aim of their social existence had for its necessary 
condition the extirpation of freebooters both by sea and land. 
The founders of Rome, on the contrary — Romulus and Remus 
— are, according to the tradition, themselves freebooters — repre- 
sented as from their earliest days thrust out from the Family, 
and as having grown up in a state of isolation from family affec- 
tion. In like manner, the first Romans are said to have got their 
wives, not by free courtship and reciprocated inclination, but 
by force. This commencement of the Roman life in savage rude- 
ness excluding the sensibilities of natural morality, brings with 
it one characteristic element — harshness in respect to the family 
relation ; a selfish harshness, which constituted the fundamental 
condition of Roman manners and laws, as we observe them in 
the sequel. We thus find family relations among the Romans 
not as a beautiful, free relation of love and feeling; the place 
of confidence is usurped by the principle of severity, dependence, 
and subordination. Marriage, in its strict and formal shape, 
bore quite the aspect of a mere contract ; the wife was part of 
the husband's property (in manum conventio), and the marriage 
ceremony was based on a cocmtio, in a form such as might have 
been adopted on the occasion of any other purchase. The hus- 
band acquired a power over his wife, such as he had over his 


daughter ; nor less over her property ; so that everything which 
she gained, she gained for her husband. During the good times 
of the republic, the celebration of marriages included a religious 
ceremony — confarreatio — but which was omitted at a later 
period. The husband obtained not less power than by the 
coemtio, when he married according to the form called usus, 
that is, when the wife remained in the house of her husband 
without having been absent a trinoctium in a year. • If the 
husband had not married in one of the forms of the in manum 
conventio, the wife remained either in the power of her father, 
or under the guardianship of her agnates, and was free as re- 
garded her husband. The Roman matron, therefore, obtained 
honor and dignity only through independence of her husband, 
instead of acquiring her honor through her husband and by 
marriage. If a husband who had married under the freer con- 
dition — that is, when the union was not consecrated by the con- 
farreatio — wished to separate from his wife, he dismissed her 
without further ceremony. The relation of sons was perfectly 
similar : they were, on the one hand, about as dependent on the 
paternal power as the wife on the matrimonial ; they could not 
possess property — it made no difference whether they filled a 
high office in the State or not (though the peculia castrensia, 
and adventitia were differently regarded) ; but on the other 
hand, when they were emancipated, they had no connection with 
their father and their family. An evidence of the degree in 
which the position of children was regarded as analogous to 
that of slaves, is presented in the imaginaria servitus (mancip- 
ium), through which emancipated children had to pass. In ref- 
erence to inheritance, morality would seem to demand that chil- 
dren should share equally. Among the Romans, on the con- 
trary, testamentary caprice manifests itself in its harshest form. 
Thus perverted and demoralized, do we here see the funda- 
mental relations of ethics. The immoral active severity of the 
Romans in this private side of character, necessarily finds its 
counterpart in the passive severity of their political union. For 
the severity which the Roman experienced from the State he 
was compensated by a severity, identical in nature, which he 
was allowed to indulge towards his family — a servant on the one 
side, a despot on the other. This constitutes the Roman great- 
ness, whose peculiar characteristic was stern inflexibility in the 
union of individuals with the State, and with its law and man- 


date. In order to obtain a nearer view of this Spirit, we must 
not merely keep in view the actions of Roman heroes, confront- 
ing the enemy as soldiers or generals, or appearing as ambassa- 
dors — since in these cases they belong, with their whole mind 
and thought, only to the state and its mandate, without hesita- 
tion or yielding — but pay particular attention also to the con- 
duct of the plebs in times of revolt against the patricians. How 
often in insurrection and in anarchical disorder was the plebs 
brought back into a state of tranquillity by a mere form, and 
cheated of the fulfilment of its demands, righteous or unright- 
eous! How often was a Dictator, e.g., chosen by the senate, 
when there was neither war nor danger from an enemy, in order 
to get the plebeians into the army, and to bind them to strict 
obedience by the military oath! It took Licinius ten years to 
carry laws favorable to the plebs ; the latter allowed itself to be 
kept back by the mere formality of the veto on the part of other 
tribunes, and still more patiently did it wait for the long-delayed 
execution of these laws. It may be asked : By what were such a 
disposition and character produced? Produced it cannot be, but 
it is essentially latent in the origination of the State from that 
primal robber-community, as also in tfce idiosyncrasy of the peo- 
ple who composed it, and lastly, in that phase of the World- 
Spirit which was just ready for development. The elements of 
the Roman people were Etruscan, Latin and Sabine; these 
must have contained an inborn natural adaptation to produce 
the Roman Spirit. Of the spirit, the character, and the life of 
the ancient Italian peoples we know very little — thanks to the 
non-intelligent character of Roman historiography! — and that 
little, for the most part, from the Greek writers on Roman his- 
tory. But of the general character of the Romans we may say 
that, in contrast with that primeval wild poetry and transmuta- 
tion of the finite, which we observe in the East — in contrast with 
the beautiful, harmonious poetry and well-balanced freedom of 
Spirit among the Greeks — here, among the Romans the prose 
of life makes its appearance — the self-consciousness of finiteness 
— the abstraction of the Understanding and a rigorous principle 
of personality, which even in the Family does not expand itself 
to natural morality, but remains the unfeeling non-spiritual 
unit, and recognizes the uniting bond of the several social units 
only in abstract universality. 

This extreme prose of the Spirit we find in Etruscan art, 


which though technically perfect and so far true to nature, has 
nothing of Greek Ideality and Beauty: we also observe it in the 
development of Roman Law and in the Roman religion. 

To the constrained, non-spiritual, and unfeeling intelligence 
of the Roman world we owe the origin and the development of 
positive law,. For we saw above, how in the East, relations in 
their very nature belonging to the sphere of outward or inward 
morality, were made legal mandates; even among the Greeks, 
morality was at the same time juristic right, and on that very 
account the constitution was entirely dependent on morals and 
disposition, and had not yet a fixity of principle within it, to 
counterbalance the mutability of men's inner life and individual 
subjectivity. The Romans then completed this important sepa- 
ration, and discovered a principle of right, which is external — 
i.e. one not dependent on disposition and sentiment. While they 
have thus bestowed upon us a valuable gift, in point of form, we 
can use and enjoy it without becoming victims to that sterile 
Understanding — without regarding it as the ne plus ultra of 
Wisdom and Reason. They were its victims, living beneath its 
sway ; but they thereby secured for others Freedom of Spirit — 
viz., that inward Freedom which has consequently become 
emancipated from the sphere of the Limited and the External. 
Spirit, Soul, Disposition, Religion have now no longer to fear 
being involved with that abstract juristical Understanding. Art 
too has its external side; when in Art the mechanical side has 
been brought to perfection, Free Art can arise and display itself. 
But those must be pitied who knew of nothing but that me- 
chanical side, and desired nothing further; as also those who, 
when Art has arisen, still regard the Mechanical as the highest. 

We see the Romans thus bound up in that abstract under- 
standing which pertains to finiteness. This is their highest char- 
acteristic, consequently also their highest consciousness, in Re- 
ligion. In fact, constraint was the religion of the Romans; 
among the Greeks, on the contrary, it was the cheerfulness of 
free fantasy. We are accustomed to regard Greek and Roman 
religion as the same, and use the names Jupiter, Minerva, etc. 
as Roman deities, often without distinguishing them from those 
of Greeks. This is admissible inasmuch as the Greek divinities 
were more or less introduced among the Romans; but as the 
Egyptian religion is by no means to be regarded as identical 
with the Greek, merely because Herodotus and the Greeks form 


to themselves an idea of the Egyptian divinities under the names 
" Latona," " Pallas," etc., so neither must the Roman be con- 
founded with the Greek. We have said that in the Greek re- 
ligion the thrill of awe suggested by Nature was fully developed 
to something Spiritual — to a free conception, a spiritual form of 
fancy — that the Greek Spirit did not remain in the condition of 
inward fear, but proceeded to make the relation borne to man by 
Nature, a relation of freedom and cheerfulness. The Romans, 
on the contrary, remained satisfied with a dull, stupid subjectiv- 
ity; consequently, the external was only an Object — something 
alien, something hidden. The Roman spirit which thus re- 
mained involved in subjectivity, came into a relation of con- 
straint and dependence, to which the origin of the word " re- 
ligio " (lig-are) points. The Roman had always to do with 
something secret; in everything he believed in and sought for 
something concealed; and while in the Greek religion every- 
thing is open and clear, present to sense and contemplation— 
not pertaining to a future world, but something friendly, and of 
this world — among the Romans everything exhibits itself as 
mysterious, duplicate: they saw in the object first itself, and 
then that which lies concealed in it: their history is pervaded 
by this duplicate mode of viewing phenomena. The city of 
Rome had besides its proper name another secret one, known 
only to a few. It is believed by some to have been " Valentia," 
the Latin translation of " Roma "; others think it was " Amor " 
(" Roma " read backwards). Romulus, the founder of the State, 
had also another, a sacred name — " Quirinus " — by which title 
he was worshipped : the Romans too were also called Quirites. 
(This name is connected with the term " curia " : in tracing its 
etymology the name of the Sabine town " Cures," has been had 
recourse to.) 

Among the Romans the religious thrill of awe remained unde- 
veloped; it was shut up to the mere subjective certainty of its 
own existence. Consciousness has therefore given itself no 
spiritual objectivity — has not elevated itself to the theoretical 
contemplation of the eternally divine nature, and to freedom in 
that contemplation ; it has gained no religious substantiality for 
itself from Spirit. The bare subjectivity of conscience is char- 
acteristic of the Roman in all that he does and undertakes — in 
his covenants, political relations, obligations, family relations, 
etc.; and all these relations receive thereby not merely a legal 


sanction, but as it were a solemnity analogous to that of an oath. 
The infinite number of ceremonies at the comitia, on assum- 
ing offices, etc., are expressions and declarations that concern 
this firm bond. Everywhere the sacra play a very important 
part. Transactions, naturally the most alien to constraint, be- 
came a sacrum, and were petrified, as it were, into that. To this 
category belongs, e.g., in strict marriages, the confarreatio, and 
the auguries and auspices generally. The knowledge of these 
sacra is utterly uninteresting and wearisome, affording fresh 
material for learned research as to whether they are of Etruscan, 
Sabine, or other origin. On their account the Roman people 
have been regarded as extremely pious, both in positive and neg- 
ative observances ; though it is ridiculous to hear recent writers 
speak with unction and respect of these sacra. The Patricians 
were especially fond of them ; they have therefore been elevated 
in the judgment of some, to the dignity of sacerdotal families, 
and regarded as the sacred gentes — the possessors and conserva- 
tors of Roman religion : the plebeians then become the godless 
element. On this head what is pertinent has already been said. 
The ancient kings were at the same time also reges sacrorum. 
After the royal dignity had been done away with, there still 
remained a Rex Sacrorum; but he, like all the other priests, was 
subject to the Pontifex Maximus, who presided over all the 
" sacra," and gave them such a rigidity and fixity as enabled the 
patricians to maintain their religious power so long. 

But the essential point in pious feeling is the subject matter 
with which it occupies itself — though it is often asserted, on 
the contrary, in modern times, that if pious feelings exist, it is a 
matter of indifference what object occupies them. It has been 
already remarked of the Romans, that their religious subjectivi- 
ty did not expand into a free spiritual and moral comprehensive- 
ness of being. It can be said that their piety did not develop itself 
into religion ; for it remained essentially formal, and this formal- 
ism took its real side from another quarter. From the very 
definition given, it follows that it can only be of a finite, unhal- 
lowed order, since it arose outside the secret sanctum of re- 
ligion. The chief characteristic of Roman Religion is therefore 
a hard and dry contemplation of certain voluntary aims, which 
they regard as existing absolutely in their divinities, and whose 
accomplishment they desire of them as embodying absolute 
power. These purposes constitute that for the sake of which 



they worship the gods, and by which, in a constrained, limited 
way, they are bound to their deities. The Roman religion is 
therefore the entirely prosaic one of narrow aspirations, expedi- 
ency, profit. The divinities peculiar to them are entirely prosaic ; 
they are conditions [of mind or body], sensations, or useful arts, 
to which their dry fancy, having elevated them to independent 
power, gave objectivity; they are partly abstractions, which 
could only become frigid allegories — partly conditions of being 
which appear as bringing advantage or injury, and which were 
presented as objects of worship in their original bare and lim- 
ited form. We can but briefly notice a few examples. The 
Romans worshipped " Pax," " Tranquillitas," " Vacuna " (Re- 
pose), "Angeronia" (Sorrow and Grief), as divinities; they 
consecrated altars to the Plague, to Hunger, to Mildew (Robi- 
go), to Fever, and to the Dea Cloacina. Juno appears among the 
Romans not merely as " Lucina," the obstetric goddess, but also 
as " Juno Ossipagina," the divinity who forms the bones of the 
child, and as " Juno Unxia," who anoints the hinges of the doors 
at marriages (a matter which was also reckoned among the 
" sacra "). How little have these prosaic conceptions in com- 
mon with the beauty of the spiritual powers and deities of the 
Greeks! On the other hand, Jupiter as " Jupiter Capitolinus " 
represents the generic essence of the Roman Empire, which is 
also personified in the divinities " Roma " and " Fortuna Pub- 

It was the Romans especially who introduced the practice of 
not merely supplicating the gods in time of need, and celebrating 
" lectisternia," but of also making solemn promises and vows 
to them. For help in difficulty they sent even into foreign coun- 
tries, and imported foreign divinities and rites. The introduc- 
tion of the gods and most of the Roman temples thus arose 
from necessity — from a vow of some kind, and an obligatory, not 
disinterested acknowledgment of favors. The Greeks on the 
contrary erected and instituted their beautiful temples, and 
statues, and rites, from love to beauty and divinity for their own 

Only one side of the Roman religion exhibits something at- 
tractive, and that is the festivals, which bear a relation to coun- 
try life, and whose observance was transmitted from the earliest 
times. The idea of the Satumian time is partly their basis — the 
conception of a state of things antecedent to and beyond the 


2 93 

limits of civil society and political combination; but their import 
is partly taken from Nature generally — the Sun, the course of 
the year, the seasons, months, etc., (with astronomical intima- 
tions) — partly from the particular aspects of the course of Nat- 
ure, as bearing upon pastoral and agricultural life. There were 
festivals of sowing and harvesting and of the seasons ; the prin- 
cipal was that of the Saturnalia, etc. In this aspect there appears 
much that is naive and ingenuous in the tradition. Yet this 
series of rites, on the whole, presents a very limited and prosaic 
appearance; deeper views of the great powers of nature and 
their generic processes are notdeducible from them ; for they are 
entirely directed to external vulgar advantage, and the merri- 
ment they occasioned, degenerated into a buffoonery unrelieved 
by intellect. While among the Greeks their tragic art developed 
itself from similar rudiments, it is on the other hand remarkable 
that among the Romans the scurrilous dances and songs con- 
nected with the rural festivals were kept up till the latest periods 
without any advance from this naive but rude form to any- 
thing really artistic. 

It has already been said that the Romans adopted the Greek 
Gods, (the mythology of the Roman poets is entirely derived 
from the Greeks) ; but the worship of these beautiful gods of the 
imagination appears to have, been among them of a very cold 
and superficial order. Their talk of Jupiter, Juno, Minerva 
sounds like a mere theatrical mention of them. The Greeks 
made their Pantheon the embodiment of a rich intellectual ma- 
terial, and adorned it with bright fancies; it was to them an 
object calling forth continual invention and exciting thoughtful 
reflection ; and an extensive, nay inexhaustible, treasure has thus 
been created for sentiment, feeling and thought in their mythol- 
ogy. The Spirit of the Romans did not indulge and delight itself 
in that play of a thoughtful fancy; the Greek mythology appears 
lifeless and exotic in their hands. Among the Roman poets — 
especially Virgil — the introduction of the gods is the product of 
a frigid Understanding and of imitation. The gods are used in 
these poems as machinery, and in a merely superficial way; re- 
garded much in the same way as in our didactic treatises on the 
belles-lettres, where among other directions we find one relating 
to the use of such machinery in epics — in order to produce 

The Romans were as essentially different from the Greeks in 


respect to their public games. In these the Romans were, prop- 
erly speaking, only spectators. The mimetic and theatrical 
representation, the dancing, foot-racing and wrestling, they left 
to manumitted slaves, gladiators, or criminals condemned to 
death. Nero's deepest degradation was his appearing on a pub- 
lic stage as a singer, lyrist and combatant. As the Romans were 
only spectators, these diversions were something foreign to 
them; they did not enter into them with their whole souls. 
With increasing luxury the taste for the baiting of beasts and 
men became particularly keen. Hundreds of bears, lions, tigers, 
elephants, crocodiles, and ostriches, were produced, and slaugh- 
tered for mere amusement. A body consisting of hundreds, nay 
thousands of gladiators, when entering the amphitheatre at a 
certain festival to engage in a sham sea-fight, addressed the Em- 
peror with the words: " Those who are devoted to death salute 
thee," to excite some compassion. In vain! the whole were 
devoted to mutual slaughter. In place of human sufferings in 
the depths of the soul and spirit, occasioned by the contradic- 
tions of life, and which find their solution in Destiny, the Ro- 
mans instituted a cruel reality of corporeal sufferings : blood in 
streams, the rattle in the throat which signals death, and the 
expiring gasp were the scenes that delighted them. — This cold 
negativity of naked murder exhibits at the same time that mur- 
der of all spiritual objective aim which had taken place in the 
soul. I need only mention, in addition, the auguries, auspices, 
and Sibylline books, to remind you how fettered the Romans 
were by superstitions of all kinds, and how they pursued ex- 
clusively their own aims in all the observances in question. The 
entrails of beasts, flashes of lightning, the flight of birds, the 
Sibylline dicta determined the administration and projects of 
the State. All this was in the hands of the patricians, who 
consciously made use of it as a mere outward [non-spiritual, 
secular] means of constraint to further their own ends and 
oppress the people. 

The distinct elements of Roman religion are, according to 
what has been said, subjective religiosity and a ritualism having 
for its object purely superficial external aims. Secular aims 
are left entirely free, instead of being limited by religion — in 
fact they are rather justified by it. The Romans are invariably 
pious, whatever may be the substantial character of their actions. 
But as the sacred principle here is nothing but an empty form, it 


is exactly of such a kind that it can be an instrument in the 
power of the devotee; it is taken possession of by the individual, 
who seeks his private objects and interests ; whereas the truly 
Divine possesses on the contrary a concrete power in itself. But 
where there is only a powerless form, the individual — the Will, 
possessing an independent concreteness able to make that form 
its own, and render it subservient to its views — stands above it. 
This happened in Rome on the part of the patricians. The 
possession of sovereignty by the patricians is thereby made firm, 
sacred, incommunicable, peculiar: the administration of gov- 
ernment, and political privileges, receive the character of hal- 
lowed private property. There does not exist therefore a sub- 
stantial national unity — not that beautiful and moral necessity of 
united life in the Polis ; but every " gens " is itself firm, stern, 
having its own Penates and sacra ; each has it own political char- 
acter, which it always preserves : strict, aristocratic severity dis- 
tinguished the Claudii; benevolence towards the people, the 
Valerii; nobleness of spirit, the Cornelii. Separation and limita- 
tion were extended even to marriage, for the connubia of patri- 
cians with plebeians were deemed profane. But in that very 
subjectivity of religion we find also the principle of arbitrariness : 
and while on the one hand we have arbitrary choice invoking 
religion to bolster up private possession, we have on the other 
hand the revolt of arbitrary choice against religion. For the 
same order of things can, on the one side, be regarded as priv- 
ileged by its religious form, and on the other side wear the 
aspect of being merely a matter of choice — of arbitrary volition 
on the part of man. When the time was come for it to be de- 
graded to the rank of a mere form, it was necessarily known 
and treated as a form — trodden under foot — represented as 
formalism. — The inequality which enters into the domain of 
sacred things forms the transition from religion to the bare real- 
ity of political life. The consecrated inequality of will and of 
private property constitutes the fundamental condition of the 
change. The Roman principle admits of aristocracy alone as the 
constitution proper to it, but which directly manifests itself only 
in an antithetical form — internal inequality. Only from neces- 
sity and the pressure of adverse circumstances is this contradic- 
tion momentarily smoothed over; for it involves a duplicate 
power, the sternness and malevolent isolation of whose com- 
ponents can only be mastered and bound together by a still 
(greater sternness, into a unity maintained by force. 


Chapter II. — The History of Rome to the Second Punic War 

In the first period, several successive stages display their char- 
acteristic varieties. The Roman State here exhibits its first 
phase of growth, under Kings; then it receives a republican con- 
stitution, at whose head stand Consuls. The struggle between 
patricians and plebeians begins ; and after this has been set at 
rest by the concession of the plebeian demands, there ensues a 
state of contentment in the internal affairs of Rome, and it ac- 
quires strength to combat victoriously with the nation that pre- 
ceded it on the stage of general history. As regards the accounts 
of the first Roman kings, every datum has met with flat contra- 
diction as the result of criticism; but it is going too far to deny 
them all credibility. Seven kings in all, are mentioned by tradi- 
tion; and even the " Higher Criticism " is obliged to recognize 
the last links in the series as perfectly historical. Romulus is 
called the founder of this union of freebooters; he organized it 
into a military state. Although the traditions respecting him 
appear fabulous, they only contain what is in accordance with 
the Roman Spirit as above described. To the second king, 
Numa, is ascribed the introduction of the religious ceremonies. 
This trait is very remarkable from its implying that religion was 
introduced later than political union, while among other peoples 
religious traditions make their appearance in the remotest 
periods and before all civil institutions. The king was at the 
same time a priest (rex is referred by etymologists to pe&tv — 
to sacrifice. As is the case with states generally, the Political 
was at first united with the Sacerdotal, and a theocratical state of 
things prevailed. The King stood here at the head of those who 
enjoyed privileges in virtue of the sacra. 

The separation of the distinguished and powerful citizens as 
senators and patricians took place as early as the first kings. 
Romulus is said to have appointed ioo patrcs, respecting which 
however the Higher Criticism is sceptical. In religion, arbitrary 
ceremonies — the sacra — became fixed marks of distinction, and 
peculiarities of the gentes and orders. The internal organization 
of the State was gradually realized. Livy says that as Numa 
established all divine matters, so Servius Tullius introduced the 
different Classes, and the Census, according to which the share 
of each citizen in the administration of public affairs was deter- 
mined. The patricians were discontented with this scheme, es- 


pecially because Servius Tullius abolished a part of the debts 
owed by the plebeians, and gave public lands to the poorer citi- 
zens, which made them possessors of landed property. He 
divided the people into six classes, of which the first together 
with the knights formed ninety-eight centuries, the inferior 
classes proportionately fewer. Thus, as they voted by centuries, 
the class first in rank had also the greatest weight in the State. 
It appears that previously the patricians had the power exclu- 
sively in their hands, but that after Servius's division they had 
merely a preponderance; which explains their discontent with 
his institutions. With Servius the history becomes more dis- 
tinct ; and under him and his predecessor, the elder Tarquinius, 
traces of prosperity are exhibited. Niebuhr is surprised that 
according to Dionysius and Livy, the most ancient constitution 
was democratic, inasmuch as the vote of every citizen had equal 
weight in the assembly of the people. But Livy only says that 
Servius abolished the suifragium viritim. Now in the comitia 
curiata — the cliental relation, which absorbed the plebs, extend- 
ing to all — the patricians alone had a vote, and papulus denoted 
at that time only the patricians. Dionysius therefore does not 
contradict himself, when he says that the constitution according 
to the laws of Romulus was strictly aristocratic. 

Almost all the Kings were foreigners — a circumstance very 
characteristic of the origin of Rome. Numa, who succeeded the 
founder of Rome, was according to the tradition, one of the 
Sabines — a people which under the reign of Romulus, led by 
Tatius, is said to have settled on one of the Roman hills. At a 
later date however the Sabine country appears as a region en- 
tirely separated from the Roman State. Numa was followed by 
Tullus Hostilius, and the very name of this king points to his 
foreign origin. Ancus Martins, the fourth king, was the grand- 
son of Numa. Tarquinius Priscus sprang from a Corinthian 
family, as we had occasion to observe above. Servius Tullius 
was from Corniculum, a conquered Latin town; Tarquinius 
Superbus was descended from the elder Tarquinius. Under this 
last king Rome reached a high degree of prosperity : even at so 
early a period as this, a commercial treaty is said to have been 
concluded with the Carthaginians; and to be disposed to reject 
this as mythical would imply forgetfulness of the connection 
which Rome had, even at that time, with the Etrurians and other 
bordering peoples whose prosperity depended on trade andmari- 


time pursuits. The Romans were probably even then acquainted 
with the art of writing, and already possessed that clear- 
sighted comprehension which was their remarkable character- 
istic, and which led to that perspicuous historical composition 
for which they are famous. 

In the growth of the inner life of the state, the power of the 
Patricians had been much reduced; and the kings often courted 
the support of the people — as we see was frequently the case 
in the mediaeval history- of Europe — in order to steal a march 
upon the Patricians. We have already observed this in Servius 
Tullius. The last king, Tarquinius Superbus, consulted the 
senate but little in state affairs; he also neglected to supply the 
place of its deceased members, and acted in every respect as if 
he aimed at its utter dissolution. Then ensued a state of political 
excitement which only needed an occasion to break out into 
open revolt. An insult to the honor of a matron — the invasion 
of that sanctum sanctorum — by the son of the king, supplied 
such an occasion. The kings were banished in the year 244 
of the City and 510 of the Christian Era (that is, if the building 
of Rome is to be dated 753 B.C.) and the royal dignity abolished 

The Kings were expelled by the patricians, not by the ple- 
beians; if therefore the patricians are to be regarded as pos- 
sessed of " divine right " as being a sacred race, it is worthy 
of note that we find them here contravening such legitimation ; 
for the King was their High Priest. We observe on this occa- 
sion with what dignity the sanctity of marriage was invested 
in the eyes of the Romans. The principle of subjectivity and 
piety (pudor) was with them the religious and guarded ele- 
ment; and its violation becomes the occasion of the expulsion 
of the Kings, and later on of the Decemvirs too. We find 
monogamy therefore also looked upon by the Romans as an 
understood thing. It was not introduced by an express law; 
we have nothing but an incidental testimony in the Institutes, 
where it is said that marriages under certain conditions of re- 
lationship are not allowable, because a man may not have two 
wives. It is not until the reign of Diocletian that we find a 
law expressly determining that no one belonging to the Roman 
empire may have two wives, " since according to a pretorian 
edict also, infamy attaches to such a condition " (cum etiam in 
edict prat oris hujusmodi viri infamia notati sunt). Monog- 



amy therefore is regarded as naturally valid, and is based on 
the principle of subjectivity. — Lastly, we must also observe that 
royalty was not abrogated here as in Greece by suicidal de- 
struction on the part of the royal races, but was exterminated 
in hate. The King, himself the chief priest, had been guilty 
of the grossest profanation; the principle of subjectivity re- 
volted against the deed, and the patricians, thereby elevated 
to a sense of independence, threw off the yoke of royalty. Pos- 
sessed by the same feeling, the plebs at a later date rose against 
the patricians, and the Latins and the Allies against the Ro- 
mans ; until the equality of the social units was restored through 
the whole Roman dominion (a multitude of slaves, too, being 
emancipated) and they were held together by simple Despot- 

Livy remarks that Brutus hit upon the right epoch for the 
expulsion of the kings, for that if it had taken place earlier, 
the state would have suffered dissolution. What would have 
happened, he asks, if this homeless crowd had been liberated 
earlier, when living together had not yet produced a mutual 
conciliation of dispositions? — The constitution now became in 
name republican. If we look at the matter more closely it is 
evident (Livy ii. 1) that no other essential change took place 
than the transference of the power which was previously per- 
manent in the King, to two annual Consuls. These two, equal 
in power, managed military and judicial as well as administra- 
tive business; for praetors, as supreme judges, do not appear 
till a later date. 

At first all authority remained in the hands of the consuls; 
and at the beginning of the republic, externally and internally, 
the state was in evil plight. In the Roman history a period 
occurs as troubled as that in the Greek which followed the 
extinction of the dynasties. The Romans had first to sustain 
a severe conflict with their expelled King, who had sought and 
found help from the Etrurians. In the war against Porsena 
the Romans lost all their conquests, and even their indepen- 
dence : they were compelled to lay down their arms and to give 
hostages; according to an expression of Tacitus (Hist. 3, 72) 
it seems as if Porsena had even taken Rome. Soon after the 
expulsion of the Kings we have the contest between the patri- 
cians and plebeians ; for the abolition of royalty had taken place 

exclusively to the advantage of the aristocracy, to which the 
Vol. 23 N— Classics 


royal power was transferred, while the plebs lost the protection 
which the Kings had afforded it. All magisterial and juridical 
power, and all property in land was at this time in the hands 
of the patricians; while the people, continually dragged out 
to war, could not employ themselves in peaceful occupations: 
handicrafts could not flourish, and the only acquisition the ple- 
beians could make was their share in the booty. The patricians 
had their territory and soil cultivated by slaves, and assigned 
some of their land to their clients, who on condition of paying 
taxes and contributions — as tenant cultivators, therefore — had 
the usufruct of it. This relation, on account of the form in 
which the dues were paid by the Clientes, was very similar to 
vassalage : they were obliged to give contributions towards the 
marriage of the daughters of the Patronus, to ransom him or 
his sons when in captivity, to assist them in obtaining magis- 
terial offices, and to make up the losses sustained in suits at 
law. The administration of justice was likewise in the hands 
of the patricians, and that without the limitations of definite 
and written laws; a desideratum which at a later period the 
Decemvirs were created to supply. All the power of govern- 
ment belonged moreover to the patricians, for they were in 
possession of all offices — first of the consulship, afterwards of 
the military tribuneship and censorship (instituted a.u.c. 311) 
- — by which the actual administration of government as like- 
wise the oversight of it, was left to them alone. Lastly, it was 
the patricians who constituted the Senate. The question as to 
how that body was recruited appears very important. But in 
this matter no systematic plan was followed. Romulus is said 
to have founded the senate, consisting then of one hundred 
members; the succeeding kings increased this number, and 
Tarquinius Priscus fixed it at three hundred. Junius Brutus 
restored the senate, which had very much fallen away, de novo. 
In after times it would appear that the censors and sometimes 
the dictators filled up the vacant places in the senate. In the 
second Punic War, a.u.c. 538, a dictator was chosen, who nomi- 
nated one hundred and seventy-seven new senators : he selected 
those who had been invested with curule dignities, the plebeian 
iEdiles, Tribunes of the People and Quaestors, citizens who had 
gained spolia opima or the corona civica. Under Caesar the num- 
ber of the senators was raised to eight hundred ; Augustus reduced 
it to six hundred. It has been regarded as great negligence on the 


part of the Roman historians, that they give us so little infor- 
mation respecting the composition and redintegration of the 
senate. But this point which appears to us to be invested 
with infinite importance, was not of so much moment to the 
Romans at large ; they did not attach so much weight to formal 
arrangements, for their principal concern was, how the gov- 
ernment was conducted. How in fact can we suppose the con- 
stitutional rights of the ancient Romans to have been so well 
defined, and that at a time which is even regarded as mythical, 
and its traditionary history as epical? 

The people were in some such oppressed condition as, e.g. 
the Irish were a few years ago in the British Isles, while they 
remained at the same time entirely excluded from the govern- 
ment. Often they revolted and made a secession from the city. 
Sometimes they also refused military service; yet it always 
remains a very striking fact that the senate could so long resist 
superior numbers irritated by oppression and practised in war; 
for the main struggle lasted for more than a hundred years. 
In the fact that the people could so long be kept in check is 
manifested its respect for legal order and the sacra. But of 
necessity the plebeians at last secured their righteous demands, 
and their debts were often remitted. The severity of the patri- 
cians their creditors, the debts due to whom they had to dis- 
charge by slave- work, drove the plebs to revolts. At first it 
demanded and received only what it had already enjoyed under 
the kings — landed property and protection against the power- 
ful. It received assignments of land, and Tribunes of the 
People — functionaries that is to say, who had the power to 
put a veto on every decree of the senate. When this office 
commenced, the number of tribunes was limited to two: later 
there were ten of them; which however was rather injurious 
to the plebs, since all that the senate had to do was to gain 
over one of the tribunes, in order to thwart the purpose of all 
the rest by his single opposition. The plebs obtained at the 
same time the provocatio ad populum: that is, in every case of 
magisterial oppression, the condemned person might appeal 
to the decision of the people — a privilege of infinite importance 
to the plebs, and which especially irritated the patricians. At 
the repeated desire of the people the Decemviri were nominated 
—the Tribunate of the People being suspended — to supply the 
desideratum of a determinate legislation; they perverted, as 



is well known, their unlimited power to tyranny; and were 
driven from power on an occasion entailing similar disgrace 
to that which led to the punishment of the Kings. The de- 
pendence of the clientela was in the meantime weakened ; after 
the decemviral epoch the clientes are less and less prominent 
and are merged in the plebs, which adopts resolutions (plebis- 
cita) ; the senate by itself could only issue senatus consulta, 
and the tribunes, as well as the senate, could now impede the 
comitia and elections. By degrees the plebeians effected their 
admissibility to all dignities and offices ; but at first a plebeian 
consul, sedile, censor, etc., was not equal to the patrician one, 
on account of the sacra which the latter kept in his hands ; and 
a long time intervened after this concession before a plebeian 
actually became a consul. It was the tribunus plebis, Licinius, 
who established the whole cycle of these political arrangements 
— in the second half of the fourth century, a.u.c. 387. It 
was he also who chiefly commenced the agitation for the lex 
agraria, respecting which so much has been written and debated 
among the learned of the day. The agitators for this law ex- 
cited during every period very great commotions in Rome. The 
plebeians were practically excluded from almost all the landed 
property, and the object of the Agrarian, Laws was to provide 
lands for them — partly in the neighborhood of Rome, partly 
in the conquered districts, to which colonies were to be then 
led out. In the time of the Republic we frequently see military 
leaders assigning lands to the people; but in every case they 
were accused of striving after royalty, because it was the kings 
who had exalted the plebs. The Agrarian Law required that 
no citizen should possess more than five hundred jugera: the 
patricians were consequently obliged to surrender a large part 
of their property. Niebuhr in particular has undertaken ex- 
tensive researches respecting the agrarian laws, and has con- 
ceived himself to have made great and important discoveries: 
he says, viz. that an infringement of the sacred right of prop- 
erty was never thought of, but that the state had only assigned 
a portion of the public lands for the use of the plebs, having 
always had the right of disposing of them as its own property. 
I only remark in passing that Hegewisch had made this dis- 
covery before Niebuhr, and that Niebuhr derived the particular 
data on which his assertion rests from Appian and Plutarch ; 
that is from Greek authors, respecting whom he himself allows 


that we should have recourse to them only in an extreme case. 
How often does Livy, as well as Cicero and others, speak of 
the Agrarian laws, while nothing definite can be inferred from 
their statements ! — This is another proof of the inaccuracy 
of the Roman historians. The whole affair ends in nothing but 
a useless question of jurisprudence. The land which the patri- 
cians had taken into possession or in which colonies settled, 
was originally public land; but it also certainly belonged to 
those in possession, and our information is not at all promoted 
by the assertion that it always remained public land. This 
discovery of Niebuhr's turns upon a very immaterial distinc- 
tion, existing perhaps in his ideas, but not in reality. — The 
Licinian law was indeed carried, but soon transgressed and 
utterly disregarded. Licinius Stolo himself, who had first 
" agitated " for the law, was punished because he possessed 
a larger property in land than was allowed, and the patricians 
opposed the execution of the law with the greatest obstinacy. 
We must here call especial attention to the distinction which 
exists between the Roman, the Greek, and our own circum- 
stances. Our civil society rests on other principles, and in it 
such measures are not necessary. Spartans and Athenians, 
who had not arrived at such an abstract idea of the State as 
was so tenaciously held by the Romans, did not trouble them- 
selves with abstract rights, but simply desired that the citizens 
should have the means of subsistence; and they required of 
the state that it should take care that such should be the case. 
This is the chief point in the first period of Roman History 
— that the plebs attained the right of being eligible to the 
higher political offices, and that by a share which they too 
managed to obtain in the land and soil, the means of subsis- 
tence were assured to the citizens. By this union of the 
patriciate and the plebs, Rome first attained true internal con- 
sistency ; and only after this had been realized could the Roman 
power develop itself externally. A period of satisfied absorp- 
tion in the common interest ensues, and the citizens are weary 
of internal struggles. When after civil discords nations direct 
their energies outward, they appear in their greatest strength ; 
for the previous excitement continues, and no longer having its 
object within, seeks for it without. This direction given to 
the Roman energies was able for a moment to conceal the 
defect of that union ; equilibrium was restored, but without an 



essential centre of unity and support. The contradiction that 
existed could not but break out again fearfully at a later period ; 
but previously to this time the greatness of Rome had to display 
itself in war and the conquest of the world. The power, the 
wealth, the glory derived from these wars, as also the difficul- 
ties to which they led, kept the Romans together as regards 
the internal affairs of the state. Their courage and discipline 
secured their victory. As compared with the Greek or Mace- 
donian, the Roman art of war has special peculiarities. The 
strength of the phalanx lay in its mass and in its massive char- 
acter. The Roman legions also present a close array, but they 
had at the same time an articulated organization: they united 
the two extremes of massiveness on the one hand, and of dis- 
persion into light troops on the other hand: they held firmly 
together, while at the same time they were capable of ready 
expansion. Archers and slingers preceded the main body of 
the Roman army when they attacked the enemy — afterwards 
leaving the decision to the sword. 

It would be a wearisome task to pursue the wars of the Ro- 
mans in Italy; partly because they are in themselves unim- 
portant — even the often empty rhetoric of the generals in Livy 
cannot very much increase the interest — partly on account of 
the unintelligent character of the Roman annalists, in whose 
pages we see the Romans carrying on war only with " enemies " 
without learning anything further of their individuality — e.g. 
the Etruscans, the Samnites, the Ligurians, with whom they 
carried on wars during many hundred years. — It is singular in 
regard to these transactions that the Romans, who have the 
justification conceded by World-History on their side, should 
also claim for themselves the minor justification in respect to 
manifestoes and treaties on occasion of minor infringements 
of them, and maintain it as it were after the fashion of advo- 
cates. But in political complications of this kind, either party 
may take offence at the conduct of the other, if it pleases, and 
deems it expedient to be offended. — The Romans had long and 
severe contests to maintain with the Samnites, the Etruscans, 
the Gauls, the Marsi, the Umbrians and the Bruttii, before they 
could make themselves masters of the whole of Italy. Their 
dominion was extended thence in a southerly direction ; they 
gained a secure footing in Sicily, where the Carthaginians had 
long carried on war; then they extended their power towards 


the west : from Sardinia and Corsica they went to Spain. They 
thus soon came into frequent contact with the Carthaginians, 
and were obliged to form a naval power in opposition to them. 
This transition was easier in ancient times than it would per- 
haps be now, when long practice and superior knowledge are 
required for maritime service. The mode of warfare at sea was 
not very different from that on land. 

We have thus reached the end of the first epoch of Roman 
History, in which the Romans by their retail military transac- 
tions had become capitalists in a strength proper to themselves, 
and with which they were to appear on the theatre of the world. 
The Roman dominion was, on the whole, not yet very greatly 
extended: only a few colonies had settled on the other side 
of the Po, and on the south a considerable power confronted 
that of Rome. It was the Second Punic War, therefore, that 
gave the impulse to its terrible collision with the most powerful 
states of the time; through it the Romans came into contact 
with Macedonia, Asia, Syria, and subsequently also with Egypt. 
Italy and Rome remained the centre of their great far-stretch- 
ing empire, but this centre was, as already remarked, not the 
less an artificial, forced, and compulsory one. This grand 
period of the contact of Rome with other states, and of the 
manifold complications thence arising, has been depicted by 
the noble Achaean, Polybius, whose fate it was to observe the 
fall of his country through the disgraceful passions of the 
Greeks and the baseness and inexorable persistency of the Ro- 



THE second period, according to our division, begins with 
the Second Punic War, that epoch which decided and 
stamped a character upon Roman dominion. In the 
first Punic War the Romans had shown that they had become a 
match for the mighty Carthage, which possessed a great part 
of the coast of Africa and southern Spain, and had gained a 
firm footing in Sicily and Sardinia. The second Punic War 
laid the might of Carthage prostrate in the dust. The proper 
element of that state was the sea ; but it had no original terri- 
tory, formed no nation, had no national army; its hosts were 
composed of the troops of subjugated and allied peoples. In 
spite of this, the great Hannibal with such a host, formed from 
the most diverse nations, brought Rome near to destruction. 
Without any support he maintained his position in Italy for 
sixteen years against Roman patience and perseverance; dur- 
ing which time however the Scipios conquered Spain and en- 
tered into alliances with the princes of Africa. Hannibal was 
at last compelled to hasten to the assistance of his hard-pressed 
country; he lost the battle of Zama in the year 552 a.u.c. and 
after six and thirty years revisited his paternal city, to which 
he was now obliged to offer pacific counsels. The second Punic 
War thus eventually established the undisputed power of Rome 
over Carthage; it occasioned the hostile collision of the Ro- 
mans with the king of Macedonia, who was conquered five 
years later. Now Antiochus, the king of Syria, is involved in 
the melee. He opposed a huge power to the Romans, was 
beaten at Thermopylae and Magnesia, and was compelled to 
surrender to the Romans Asia Minor as far as the Taurus. 
After the conquest of Macedonia both that country and Greece 
were declared free by the Romans — a declaration whose mean- 



ing we have already investigated, in treating of the preceding 
Historical nation. It was not till this time that the Third 
Punic War commenced, for Carthage had once more raised its 
head and excited the jealousy of the Romans. After long re- 
sistance it was taken and laid in ashes. Nor could the Achaean 
league now long maintain itself in the face of Roman ambition : 
the Romans were eager for war, destroyed Corinth in the same 
year as Carthage, and made Greece a province. The fall of 
Carthage and the subjugation of Greece were the central points 
from which the Romans gave its vast extent to their sover- 

Rome seemed now to have attained perfect security; no 
external power confronted it: she was the mistress of the 
Mediterranean — that is of the media terra of all civilization. 
In this period of victory, its morally great and fortunate per- 
sonages, especially the Scipios, attract our attention. They 
were morally fortunate — although the greatest of the Scipios 
met with an end outwardly unfortunate — because they devoted 
their energies to their country during a period when it enjoyed 
a sound and unimpaired condition. But after the feeling of 
patriotism — the dominant instinct of Rome — had been satisfied, 
destruction immediately invades the state regarded en masse; 
the grandeur of individual character becomes stronger in in- 
tensity, and more vigorous in the use of means, on account of 
contrasting circumstances. We see the internal contradiction 
of Rome now beginning to manifest itself in another form; 
and the epoch which concludes the second period is also the 
second mediation of that contradiction. We observed that con- 
tradiction previously in the struggle of the patricians against 
the plebeians : now it assumes the form of private interest, con- 
travening patriotic sentiment ; and respect for the state no lon- 
ger holds these opposites in the necessary equipoise. Rather, 
we observe now side by side with wars for conquest, plunder 
and glory, the fearful spectacle of civil discords in Rome, and 1 
intestine wars. There does not follow, as among the Greeks 
after the Median wars, a period of brilliant splendor in culture, 
art and science, in which Spirit enjoys inwardly and ideally 
that which it had previously achieved in the world of action. 
If inward satisfaction was to follow the period of that external 
prosperity in war, the principle of Roman life must be more 
concrete. But if there were such a concrete life to evolve as 


an object of consciousness from the depths of their souls by 
imagination and thought, what would it have been ! Their 
chief spectacles were triumphs, the treasures gained in war, and 
captives from all nations, unsparingly subjected to the yoke of 
abstract sovereignty. The concrete element, which the Romans 
actually find within themselves, is only this unspiritual unity, 
and any definite thought or feeling of a non-abstract kind, can 
lie only in the idiosyncrasy of individuals. The tension of 
virtue is now relaxed, because the danger is past. At the time 
of the first Punic War, necessity united the hearts of all for the 
saving of Rome. In the following wars too, with Macedonia, 
Syria, and the Gauls in Upper Italy, the existence of the entire 
state was still concerned. But after the danger from Carthage 
and Macedon was over, the subsequent wars were more and 
more the mere consequences of victories, and nothing else was 
needed than to gather in their fruits. The armies were used for 
particular expeditions, suggested by policy, or for the advan- 
tages of individuals — for acquiring wealth, glory, sovereignty 
in the abstract. The relation to other nations was purely that 
of force. The national individuality of peoples did not, as 
early as the time of the Romans, excite respect, as is the case 
in modern times. The various peoples were not yet recognized 
as legitimated; the various states had not yet acknowledged 
each other as real essential existences. Equal right to existence 
entails a union of states, such as exists in modern Europe, or 
a condition like that of Greece, in which the states had an equal 
right to existence under the protection of the Delphic god. The 
Romans do not enter into such a relation to the other nations, 
for their god is only the Jupiter Capitolinus ; neither do they 
respect the sacra of the other nations (any more than the ple- 
beians those of the patricians) ; but as conquerors in the strict 
sense of the term, they plunder the Palladia of the nations. 
Rome kept standing armies in the conquered provinces, and 
proconsuls and propraetors were sent into them as viceroys. 
The Equites collected the taxes and tributes, which they farmed 
under the State. A net of such fiscal farmers ( public ani) was 
thus drawn over the whole Roman world. — Cato used to say, 
after every deliberation of the senate : " Ceterum censeo Car- 
ihagmem esse delendam:" and Cato was a thorough Roman. 
The Roman principle thereby exhibits itself as the cold abstrac- 
tion of sovereignty and power, as the pure egotism of the will 



in opposition to others, involving no moral element of deter- 
mination, but appearing in a concrete form only in the shape 
of individual interests. Increase in the number of provinces 
issued in the aggrandizement of individuals within Rome itself, 
and the corruption thence arising. From Asia, luxury and 
debauchery were brought to Rome. Riches flowed in after the 
fashion of spoils in war, and were not the fruit of industry and 
honest activity ; in the same way as the marine had arisen, not 
from the necessities of commerce, but with a warlike object. 
The Roman state, drawing its resources from rapine, came to 
be rent in sunder by quarrels about dividing the spoil. For the 
first occasion of the breaking out of contention within it was 
the legacy of Attalus, King of Pergamus, who had bequeathed 
his treasures to the Roman State. Tiberius Gracchus came 
forward with the proposal to divide it among the Roman citi- 
zens; he likewise renewed the Licinian Agrarian laws, which 
had been entirely set aside during the predominance of indi- 
viduals in the state. His chief object was to procure property 
for the free citizens, and to people Italy with citizens instead 
of slaves. This noble Roman, however, was vanquished by the 
grasping nobles, for the Roman constitution was no longer in 
a condition to be saved by the constitution itself. Caius Grac- 
chus, the brother of Tiberius, prosecuted the same noble aim 
as his brother, and shared the same fate. Ruin now broke in 
unchecked, and as there existed no generally recognized and 
absolutely essential object to which the country's energy could 
be devoted, individualities and physical force were in the as- 
cendant. The enormous corruption of Rome displays itself 
in the war with Jugurtha, who had gained the senate by bri- 
bery, and so indulged himself in the most atrocious deeds of 
violence and crime. Rome was pervaded by the excitement of 
the struggle against the Cimbri and Teutones, who assumed 
a menacing position towards the State. With great exertions 
the latter were utterly routed in Provence, near Aix ; the others 
in Lombardy at the Adige by Marius the conqueror of Ju- 
gurtha. Then the Italian allies, whose demand of Roman citi- 
zenship had been refused, raised a revolt; and while the Ro- 
mans had to sustain a struggle against a vast power in Italy, 
they received the news that, at the command of Mithridates, 
80,000 Romans had been put to death in Asia Minor. Mith- 
ridates was King of Pontus, governed Colchis and the lands 



of the Black Sea, as far as the Tauric peninsula, and could 
summon to his standard in his war with Rome the populations 
of the Caucasus, of Armenia, Mesopotamia, and a part of Syria, 
through his son-in-law Tigranes. Sulla, who had already led 
the Roman hosts in the Social War, conquered him. Athens, 
which had hitherto been spared, was beleaguered and taken, 
but " for the sake of their fathers " — as Sulla expressed himself 
— not destroyed. He then returned to Rome, reduced the pop- 
ular faction, headed by Marius and Cinna, became master of 
the city, and commenced systematic massacres of Roman citi- 
zens of consideration. Forty senators and six hundred knights 
were sacrificed to his ambition and lust of power. 

Mithridates was indeed defeated, but not overcome, and 
was able to begin the war anew. At the same time, Sertorius, 
a banished Roman, arose in revolt in Spain, carried on a contest 
there for eight years, and perished only through treachery. 
The war against Mithridates was terminated by Pompey ; the 
King of Pontus killed himself when his resources were ex- 
hausted. The Servile War in Italy is a contemporaneous event. 
A great number of gladiators and mountaineers had formed a 
union under Spartacus, but were vanquished by Crassus. To 
this confusion was added the universal prevalence of piracy, 
which Pompey rapidly reduced by a large armament. 

We thus see the most terrible and dangerous powers arising 
against Rome ; yet the military force of this state is victorious 
over all. Great individuals now appear on the stage as during 
the times of the fall of Greece. The biographies of Plutarch 
are here also of the deepest interest. It was from the disrup- 
tion of the state, which had no longer any consistency or firm- 
ness in itself, that these colossal individualities arose, instinc- 
tively impelled to restore that political unity which was no 
longer to be found in men's dispositions. It was their misfor- 
tune that they could not maintain a pure morality, for their 
course of action contravened things as they are, and was a series 
of transgressions. Even the noblest — the Gracchi — were not 
merely the victims of injustice and violence from without, but 
were themselves involved in the corruption and wrong that 
universally prevailed. But that which these individuals pur- 
pose and accomplish has on its side the higher sanction of the 
World-Spirit, and must eventually triumph. The idea of an 
organization for the vast empire being altogether absent, the 


senate could not assert the authority of government. The sov- 
ereignty was made dependent on the people — that people which 
was now a mere mob, and was obliged to be supported by corn 
from the Roman provinces. We should refer to Cicero to see 
how all affairs of state were decided in riotous fashion, and 
with arms in hand, by the wealth and power of the grandees 
on the one side, and by a troop of rabble on the other. The 
Roman citizens attached themselves to individuals who flattered 
them, and who then became prominent in factions, in order 
to make themselves masters of Rome. Thus we see in Pompey 
and Caesar the two foci of Rome's splendor coming into hostile 
opposition : on the one side, Pompey with the Senate, and 
therefore apparently the defender of the Republic — on the 
other, Caesar with his legions and a superiority of genius. This 
contest between the two most powerful individualities could 
not be decided at Rome in the Forum. Caesar made himself 
master in succession, of Italy, Spain, and Greece, utterly routed 
his enemy at Pharsalia, forty-eight years before Christ, made 
himself sure of Asia, and so returned victor to Rome. 

In this way the world-wide sovereignty of Rome became 
the property of a single possessor. This important change 
must not be regarded as a thing of chance; it was necessary 
— postulated by the circumstances. The democratic constitu- 
tion could no longer be really maintained in Rome, but only 
kept up in appearance. Cicero, who had procured himself great 
respect through his high oratorical talent, and whose learning 
acquired him considerable influence, always attributes the cor- 
rupt state of the republic to individuals and their passions. 
Plato, whom Cicero professedly followed, had the full con- 
sciousness that the Athenian state, as it presented itself to him, 
could not maintain its existence, and therefore sketched the 
plan of a perfect constitution accordant with his views. Cicero, 
on the contrary, does not consider it impossible to preserve the 
Roman Republic, and only desiderates some temporary as- 
sistance for it in its adversity. The nature of the State, and 
of the Roman State in particular, transcends his comprehen- 
sion. Cato, too, says of Caesar : " His virtues be execrated, 
for they have ruined my country ! " But it was not the mere 
accident of Caesar's existence that destroyed the Republic — it 
was Necessity. All the tendencies of the Roman principle were 
to sovereignty and military force : it contained in it no spiritual 


centre which it could make the object, occupation, and enjoy- 
ment of its Spirit. The aim of patriotism — that of preserving 
the State— ceases when the lust of personal dominion becomes 
the impelling passion. The citizens were alienated from the 
state, for they found in it no objective satisfaction; and the 
interests of individuals did not take the same direction as among 
the Greeks, who could set against the incipent corruption of 
the practical world, the noblest works of art in painting, sculpt- 
ure and poetry, and especially a highly cultivated philosophy. 
Their works of art were only what they had collected from 
every part of Greece, and therefore not productions of their 
own; their riches were not the fruit of industry, as was the 
case in Athens, but the result of plunder. Elegance — Culture 
— was foreign to the Romans per se; they sought to obtain it 
from the Greeks, and for this purpose a vast number of Greek 
slaves were brought to Rome. Delos was the centre of this 
slave trade, and it is said that sometimes on a single day, ten 
thousand slaves were purchased there. To the Romans, Greek 
slaves were their poets, their authors, the superintendents of 
their manufactories, the instructors of their children. 

The Republic could not longer exist in Rome. We see, espe- 
cially from Cicero's writings, how all public affairs were de- 
cided by the private authority of the more eminent citizens — 
by their power, their wealth; and what tumultuary proceed- 
ings marked all political transactions. In the republic, there- 
fore, there was no longer any security; that could be looked 
for only in a single will. Caesar, who may be adduced as a 
paragon of Roman adaptation of means to ends — who formed 
his resolves with the most unerring perspicuity, and executed 
them with the greatest vigor and practical skill, without any 
superfluous excitement of mind — Caesar, judged by the great 
scope of history, did the Right ; since he furnished a mediating 
element, and that kind of political bond which men's condition 
required. Caesar effected two objects : he calmed the internal 
strife, and at the same time originated a new one outside the 
limits of the empire. For the conquest of the world had reached 
hitherto only to the circle of the Alps, but Caesar opened a new 
scene of achievement: he founded the theatre which was on 
the point of becoming the centre of History. He then achieved 
universal sovereignty by a struggle which was decided not in 
Rome itself, but by his conquest of the whole Roman World. 


His position was indeed hostile to the republic, but, properly- 
speaking, only to its shadow; for all that remained of that 
republic was entirely powerless. Pompey, and all those who 
were on the side of the senate, exalted their dignitas auctoritas 
— their individual rule — as the power of the republic ; and the 
mediocrity which needed protection took refuge under this title. 
Caesar put an end to the empty formalism of this title, made 
himself master, and held together the Roman world by force, 
in opposition to isolated factions. Spite of this we see the 
noblest men of Rome supposing Caesar's rule to be a merely 
adventitious thing, and the entire position of affairs to be de- 
pendent on his individuality. So thought Cicero, so Brutus and 
Cassius. They believed that if this one individual were out of 
the way, the Republic would be ipso facto restored. Possessed 
by this remarkable hallucination, Brutus, a man of highly 
noble character, and Cassius, endowed with greater practical 
energy than Cicero, assassinated the man whose virtues they 
appreciated. But it became immediately manifest that only 
a single will could guide the Roman State, and now the Ro- 
mans were compelled to adopt that opinion ; since in all periods 
of the world a political revolution is sanctioned in men's opin- 
ions, when it repeats itself. Thus Napoleon was twice defeated, 
and the Bourbons twice expelled. By repetition that which at 
first appeared merely a matter of chance and contingency be- 
comes a real and ratified existence. 


Chapter I. — Rome Under the Emperors 

DURING this period the Romans come into contact with 
the people destined to succeed them as a World-Histor- 
ical nation ; and we have to consider that period in two 
essential aspects, the secular and the spiritual. In the secular 
aspect two leading phases must be specially regarded : first, the 
position of the Ruler; and secondly, the conversion of mere 
individuals into persons — the world of legal relations. 

The first thing to be remarked respecting the imperial rule 
is that the Roman government was so abstracted from interest, 
that the great transition to that rule hardly changed anything 
in the constitution. The popular assemblies alone were un- 
suited to the new state of things, and disappeared. The em- 
peror was princeps senatus, Censor, Consul, Tribune : he united 
all their nominally continuing offices in himself ; and the mili- 
tary power — here the most essentially important — was exclu- 
sively in his hands. The constitution was an utterly unsub- 
stantial form, from which all vitality, consequently all might 
and power, had departed ; and the only means of maintaining 
its existence were the legions which the Emperor constantly 
kept in the vicinity of Rome. Public business was indeed 
brought before the senate, and the Emperor appeared simply 
as one of its members ; but the senate was obliged to obey, 
and whoever ventured to gainsay his will was punished with 
death, and his property confiscated. Those therefore who had 
certain death in anticipation, killed themselves, that if they 
could do nothing more, they might at least preserve their prop- 
erty to their family. Tiberius was the most odious to the Ro- 
mans on account of his power of dissimulation : he knew very 
well how to make good use of the baseness of the senate, in 
extirpating those among them whom he feared. The power 
of the Emperor rested, as we have said, on the army, and the 
Pretorian bodyguard which surrounded him. But the legions, 



and especially the Pretorians, soon became conscious of their 
importance, and arrogated to themselves the disposal of the 
imperial throne. At first they continued to show some respect 
for the family of Caesar Augustus, but subsequently the legions 
chose their own generals ; such, viz., as had gained their good 
will and favor, partly by courage and intelligence, partly also 
by bribes, and indulgence in the administration of military dis- 

The Emperors conducted themselves in the enjoyment of 
their power with perfect simplicity, and did not surround them- 
selves with pomp and splendor in Oriental fashion. We find 
in them traits of simplicity which astonish us. Thus, e.g., Au- 
gustus writes a letter to Horace, in which he reproaches him 
for having failed to address any poem to him, and asks him 
whether he thinks that that would disgrace him with posterity. 
Sometimes the Senate made an attempt to regain its conse- 
quence by nominating the Emperor: but their nominees were 
either unable to maintain their ground, or could do so only 
by bribing the Pretorians. The choice of the senators and 
the constitution of the senate was moreover left entirely to the 
caprice of the Emperor. The political institutions were united 
in the person y. the Emperor; no moral bond any longer ex- 
isted ; the will of the Emperor was supreme, and before him 
there was absolute equality. The freedmen who surrounded 
the Emperor were often the mightiest in the empire; for ca- 
price recognizes no distinction. In the person of the Emperor 
isolated subjectivity has gained a perfectly unlimited realiza- 
tion. Spirit has renounced its proper nature, inasmuch as 
Limitation of being and of volition has been constituted an 
unlimited absolute existence. This arbitrary choice, moreover, 
has only one limit, the limit of all that is human — death; and 
even death became a theatrical display. Nero, e.g., died a 
death, which may furnish an example for the noblest hero, as 
for the most resigned of sufferers. Individual subjectivity thus 
entirely emancipated from control, has no inward life, no pros- 
pective nor retrospective emotions, no repentance, nor hope, 
nor fear — not even thought; for all these involve fixed condi- 
tions and aims, while here every condition is purely contingent. 
The springs of action are none other than desire, lust, passion, 
fancy — in short, caprice absolutely unfettered. It finds so little 
limitation in the will of others, that the relation of will to will 


may be called that of absolute sovereignty to absolute slavery. 
In the whole known world, no will is imagined that is not sub- 
ject to the will of the Emperor. But under the sovereignty of 
that One, everything is in a condition of order; for as it actually 
is [as the Emperor has willed it], it is in due order, and gov- 
ernment consists in bringing all into harmony with the sov- 
ereign One. The concrete element in the character of the 
Emperors is therefore of itself of no interest, because the con- 
crete is not of essential importance. Thus there were Empe- 
rors of noble character and noble nature, and who highly dis- 
tinguished themselves by mental and moral culture. Titus, 
Trajan, the Antonines, are known as such characters, rigor- 
ously strict in self-government; yet even these produced no 
change in the state. The proposition was never made during 
their time, to give the Roman Empire an organization of free 
social relationship: they were only a kind of happy chance, 
which passes over without a trace, and leaves the condition of 
things as it was. For these persons find themselves here in a 
position in which they cannot be said to act, since no object con- 
fronts them in opposition ; they have only to will — well or ill — 
and it is so. The praiseworthy emperors Vespasian and Titus 
were succeeded by that coarsest and most loathsome tyrant, 
Domitian : yet the Roman historian tells us that the Roman 
world enjoyed tranquillizing repose under him. Those single 
points of light, therefore, effected no change ; the whole empire 
was subject to the pressure of taxation and plunder ; Italy was 
depopulated; the most fertile lands remained untilled: and 
this state of things lay as a fate on the Roman world. 

The second point which we have particularly to remark, is 
the position taken by individuals as persons. Individuals were 
perfectly equal (slavery made only a trifling distinction), and 
without any political right. As early as the termination of the 
Social War, the inhabitants of the whole of Italy were put on 
an equal footing with Roman citizens; and under Caracalla 
all distinction between the subjects of the entire Roman empire 
was abolished. Private Right developed and perfected this 
equality. The right of property had been previously limited 
by distinctions of various kinds, which were now abrogated. 
We observed the Romans proceeding from the principle of 
abstract Subjectivity, which now realizes itself as Personality 
in the recognition of Private Right. Private Right, viz., is this, 


that the social unit as such enjoys consideration in the state, 
in the reality which he gives to himself — viz., in property. The 
living political body — that Roman feeling which animated it as 
its soul — is now brought back to the isolation of a lifeless Pri- 
vate Right. As, when the physical body suffers dissolution, 
each point gains a life of its own, but which is only the miser- 
able life of worms ; so the political organism is here dissolved 
into atoms — viz., private persons. Such a condition is Roman 
life at this epoch: on the one side, Fate and the abstract uni- 
versality of sovereignty; on the other, the individual abstrac- 
tion. " Person," which involves the recognition of the inde- 
pendent dignity of the social unit — not on the ground of the 
display of the life which he possesses — in his complete indi- 
viduality — but as the abstract individuum. 

It is the pride of the social units to enjoy absolute impor- 
tance as private persons ; for the Ego is thus enabled to assert 
unbounded claims; but the substantial interest thus compre- 
hended — the meum — is only of a superficial kind, and the de- 
velopment of private right, which this high principle intro- 
duced, involved the decay of political life. — The Emperor 
domineered only, and could not be said to rule; for the equita- 
ble and moral medium between the sovereign and the subjects 
was wanting — the bond of a cpnstitution and organization of 
the state, in which a gradation of circles of social life, enjoying 
independent recognition, exists in communities and provinces, 
which, devoting their energies to the general interest, exert an 
influence on the general government. There are indeed Curiae 
in the towns, but they are either destitute of weight, or used 
only as means for oppressing individuals, and for systematic 
plunder. That, therefore, which was abidingly present to the 
minds of men was not their country, or such a moral unity as 
that supplies: the whole state of things urged them to yield 
themselves to fate, and to strive for a perfect indifference to 
life — an indifference which they sought either in freedom of 
thought or in directly sensuous enjoyment. Thus man was 
either at war with existence, or entirely given up to mere sensu- 
ous existence. He either recognized his destiny in the task 
of acquiring the means of enjoyment through the favor of the 
Emperor, or through violence, testamentary frauds, and cun- 
ning ; or he sought repose in philosophy, which alone was still 
able to c, ioply something firm and independent: for the sys- 


terns of that time — Stoicism, Epicureanism, and Scepticism — 
although within their Common sphere opposed to each other, 
had the same general purport, viz., rendering the soul abso- 
lutely indifferent to everything which the real world had to 
offer. These philosophies were therefore widely extended 
among the cultivated : they produced in man a self-reliant im- 
mobility as the result of Thought, i.e. of the activity which 
produces the Universal. But the inward reconciliation by 
means of philosophy was itself only an abstract one — in the 
pure principle of personality ; for Thought, which, as perfectly 
refined, made itself its own object, and thus harmonized itself, 
was entirely destitute of a real object, and the immobility 
of Scepticism made aimlessness itself the object of the Will. 
This philosophy knew nothing but the negativity of all that 
assumed to be real, and was the counsel of despair to a world 
which no longer possessed anything stable. It could not satisfy 
the living Spirit, which longed after a higher reconciliation. 

Chapter II. — Christianity- 
It has been remarked that Caesar inaugurated the Modern 
World on the side of reality, while its spiritual and inward 
existence was unfolded under Augustus. At the beginning of 
that empire, whose principle we have recognized as finiteness 
and particular subjectivity exaggerated to infinitude, the salva- 
tion of the World had its birth in the same principle of subjec- 
tivity — viz., as a particular person, in abstract subjectivity, but 
in such a way that conversely, finiteness is only the form of his 
appearance, while infinity and absolutely independent existence 
constitute the essence and substantial being which it embodies. 
The Roman World, as it has been described — in its desperate 
condition and the pain of abandonment by God — came to an 
open rupture with reality, and made prominent the general 
desire for a satisfaction such as can only be attained in " the 
inner man," the Soul — thus preparing the ground for a higher 
Spiritual World. Rome was the Fate that crushed down the 
gods and all genial life in its hard service, while it was the 
power that purified the human heart from all speciality. Its 
entire condition is therefore analogous to a place of birth, and 
its pain is like the travail-throes of another and higher Spirit, 
which manifested itself in connection with the Christian Re- 



ligion. This higher Spirit involves the reconciliation and eman- 
cipation of Spirit ; while man obtains the consciousness of Spirit 
in its universality and infinity. The Absolute Object, Truth, 
is Spirit; and as man himself is Spirit, he is present [is mir- 
rored] to himself in that object, and thus in his Absolute Object 
has found Essential Being and his own essential being.* But 
in order that the objectivity of Essential Being may be done 
away with, and Spirit be no longer alien to itself — may be with 
itself [self-harmonized] — the Naturalness of Spirit — that in 
virtue of which man is a special, empirical existence — must be 
removed ; so that the alien element may be destroyed, and the 
reconciliation of Spirit be accomplished. 

God is thus recognized as Spirit, only when known as the 
Triune. This new principle is the axis on which the History 
of the World turns. This is the goal and the starting point of 
History. " When the fulness of the time was come, God sent 
his Son," is the statement of the Bible. This means nothing 
else than that self-consciousness had reached the phases of de- 
velopment [Momente], whose resultant constitutes the Idea 
of Spirit, and had come to feel the necessity of comprehending 
those phases absolutely. This must now be more fully ex- 
plained. We said of the Greeks, that the law for their Spirit 
was : " Man, know thyself." ., The Greek Spirit was a con- 
sciousness of Spirit, but under a limited form, having the ele- 
ment of Nature as an essential ingredient. Spirit may have 
had the upper hand, but the unity of the superior and the 
subordinate was itself still Natural. Spirit appeared as spe- 
cialized in the idiosyncrasies of the genius of the several Greek 
nationalities and of their divinities, and was represented by Art, 
in whose sphere the Sensuous is elevated only to the middle 
ground of beautiful form and shape, but not to pure Thought. 
The element of Subjectivity that was wanting to the Greeks, 
we found among the Romans : but as it was merely formal and 
in itself indefinite, it took its material from passion and caprice ; 
— even the most shameful degradations could be here connected 
with a divine dread (vide the declaration of Hispala respecting 
the Bacchanalia, Livy xxxix. 13). This element of subjectivity 
is afterwards further realized as Personality of Individuals — 

* The harsh requirements of an un- thing short of perfection ensues — con- 
genial tyranny call forth man's highest sciousness of sin; and this sentiment in 
powers of self-sacrifice; he learns his its greatest intensity, produces union 
moral capacity; dissatisfaction with any- with God. — Ed. 


a realization which is exactly adequate to the principle, and is 
equally abstract and formal. As such an Ego [such a person- 
ality], I am infinite to myself, and my phenomenal existence 
consists in the property recognized as mine, and the recognition 
of my personality. This inner existence goes no further; all 
the applications of the principle merge in this. Individuals are 
thereby posited as atoms ; but they are at the same time subject 
to the severe rule of the One, which as monas monadum is a 
power over private persons [the connection between the ruler 
and the ruled is not mediated by the claim of Divine or of Con- 
stitutional Right, or any general principle, but is direct and 
individual, the Emperor being the immediate lord of each sub- 
ject in the Empire] . That Private Right is therefore, ipso facto, 
a nullity, an ignoring of the personality; and the supposed 
condition of Right turns out to be an absolute destitution of it. 
This contradiction is the misery of the Roman World. Each 
person is, according to the principle of his personality, entitled 
only to possesion, while the Person of Persons lays claim to 
the possession of all these individuals, so that the right assumed 
by the social unit is at once abrogated and robbed of validity. 
But the misery of this contradiction is the Discipline of the 
World. " Zucht " (discipline) is derived from " Ziehen " (to 
draw).* This " drawing " must be towards something; there 
must be some fixed unity in the background in whose direction 
that drawing takes place, and for which the subject of it is 
being trained, in order that the standard of attainment may be 
reached. A renunciation, a disaccustoming, is the means of 
leading to an absolute basis of existence. That contradiction 
which afflicts the Roman World is the very state of things 
which constitutes such a discipline — the discipline of that cult- 
ure which compels personality to display its nothingness. But 
it is reserved for us of a later period to regard this as a train- 
ing; to those who are thus trained [traines, dragged], it seems 
a blind destiny, to which they submit in the stupor of suffering. 
The higher condition, in which the soul itself feels pain and 
longing — in which man is not only " drawn," but feels that 
the drawing is into himself [into his own inmost nature] — 
is still absent. What has been reflection on our part must arise 
in the mind of the subject of this discipline in the form of 
a consciousness that in himself he is miserable and null. Out- 

* So the English " train " from French " trainer "—to draw or drag.— Ed. 



ward suffering must, as already said, be merged in a sorrow 
of the inner man. He must feel himself as the negation of 
himself ; he must see that his misery is the misery of his nature 
— that he is in himself a divided and discordant being. This 
state of mind, this self-chastening, this pain occasioned by our 
individual nothingness — the wretchedness of our [isolated] 
self, and the longing to transcend this condition of soul — must 
be looked for elsewhere than in the properly Roman World. 
It is this which gives to the Jewish People their World-Histori- 
cal importance and weight; for from this state of mind arose 
that higher phase in which Spirit came to absolute self-con- 
sciousness — passing from that alien form of being which is 
its discord and pain, and mirroring itself in its own essence. 
The state of feeling in question we find expressed most purely 
and beautifully in the Psalms of David, and in the Prophets; 
the chief burden of whose utterances is the thirst of the soul 
after God, its profound sorrow for its transgressions, and the 
desire for righteousness and holiness. Of this Spirit we have 
the mythical representation at the very beginning of the Jew- 
ish canonical books, in the account of the Fall. Man, created 
in the image of God, lost, it is said, his state of absolute con- 
tentment, by eating of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good 
and Evil. Sin consists here only in Knowledge: this is the 
sinful element, and by it man is stated to have trifled away 
his Natural happiness. This is a deep truth, that evil lies in 
consciousness : for the brutes are neither evil nor good ; the 
merely Natural Man quite as little.* Consciousness occasions 
the separation of the Ego, in its boundless freedom as arbitrary 
choice, from the pure essence of the Will — i.e. from the Good. 
Knowledge, as the disannulling of the unity of mere Nature, 
is the " Fall," which is no casual conception, but the eternal 
history of Spirit. For the state of innocence, the paradisaical 
condition, is that of the brute. Paradise is a park, where only 
brutes, not men, can remain. For the brute is one with God 
only implicitly [not consciously]. Only Man's Spirit (that is) 
has a self -cognizant existence. This existence for self, this 
consciousness, is at the same time separation from the Uni- 
versal and Divine Spirit. If I hold to my abstract Freedom, in 
contraposition to the Good, I adopt the standpoint of Evil. 
The Fall is therefore the eternal Mythus of Man — in fact, the 

* " I was alive without the law once," etc. Rom. vii. 9. 


very transition by which he becomes man. Persistence in this 
standpoint is, however, Evil, and the feeling of pain at such 
a condition, and of longing to transcend it, we find in David, 
when he says : " Lord, create for me a pure heart, a new stead- 
fast Spirit." This feeling we observe even in the account of 
the Fall; though an announcement of Reconciliation is not 
made there, but rather one of continuance in misery. Yet we 
have in this narrative the prediction of reconciliation in the 
sentence, " The serpent's head shall be bruised " ; but still more 
profoundly expressed where it is stated that when God saw that 
Adam had eaten of that tree, he said, " Behold Adam is become 
as one of us, knowing Good and Evil." God confirms the 
words of the Serpent. Implicitly and explicitly, then, we have 
the truth, that man through Spirit — through cognition of the 
Universal and the Particular — comprehends God Himself. But 
it is only God that declares this — not man : the latter remains, 
on the contrary, in a state of internal discord. The joy of 
reconciliation is still distant from humanity; the absolute and 
final repose of his whole being is not yet discovered to man. 
It exists, in the first instance, only for God. As far as the 
present is concerned, the feeling of pain at his condition is 
regarded as a final award. The satisfaction which man enjoys 
at first, consists in the finite and temporal blessings conferred 
on the Chosen Family and the possession of the Land of Ca- 
naan. His repose is not found in God. Sacrifices are, it is 
true, offered to Him in the Temple, and atonement made by 
outward offerings and inward penitence. But that mundane 
satisfaction in the Chosen Family, and its possession of Canaan, 
was taken from the Jewish people in the chastisement inflicted 
by the Roman Empire. The Syrian kings did indeed oppress 
it, but it was left for the Romans to annul its individuality. 
The Temple of Zion is destroyed ; the God-serving nation is 
scattered to the winds. Here every source of satisfaction is 
taken away, and the nation is driven back to the standpoint 
of that primeval mythus — the standpoint of that painful feeling 
which humanity experiences when thrown upon itself. Op- 
posed to the universal Fatum of the Roman World, we have 
here the consciousness of Evil and the direction of the mind 
Godwards. All that remains to be done, is that this funda- 
mental idea should be expanded to an objective universal sense, 
and be taken as the concrete existence of man — as the com- 


pletion of his nature. Formerly the Land of Canaan and them- 
selves as the people of God had been regarded by the Jews as 
that concrete and complete existence. But this basis of satis- 
faction is now lost, and thence arises the sense of misery and 
failure of hope in God, with whom that happy reality had been 
essentially connected. Here, then, misery is not the stupid 
immersion in a blind Fate, but a boundless energy of longing. 
Stoicism taught only that the Negative is not — that pain must 
not be recognized as a veritable existence ; but Jewish feeling 
persists in acknowledging Reality and desires harmony and 
reconciliation within its sphere; for that feeling is based on 
the Oriental Unity of Nature — i.e., the unity of Reality, of 
Subjectivity, with the substance of the One Essential Being. 
Through the loss of mere outward reality Spirit is driven back 
within itself ; the side of reality is thus refined to Universality, 
through the reference of it to the One. The Oriental antithesis 
of Light and Darkness is transferred to Spirit, and the Dark- 
ness becomes Sin. For the abnegation of reality there is no 
compensation but Subjectivity itself — the Human Will as in- 
trinsically universal ; and thereby alone does reconciliation 
become possible. Sin is the discerning of Good and Evil as 
separation ; but this discerning likewise heals the ancient hurt, 
and is the fountain of infinite reconciliation. The discerning 
in question brings with it the destruction of that which is 
external and alien in consciousness, and is consequently the 
return of Subjectivity into itself. This, then, adopted into 
the actual self-consciousness of the World is the Reconciliation 
[atonement] of the World. From that unrest of infinite sor- 
row — in which the two sides of the antithesis stand related to 
each other — is developed the unity of God with Reality (which 
latter had been posited as negative) i.e., with Subjectivity 
which had been separated from Him. The infinite loss is coun- 
terbalanced only by its infinity, and thereby becomes infinite 
gain. The recognition of the identity of the Subject and God 
was introduced into the World when the fulness of Time was 
come: the consciousness of this identity is the recognition of 
God in his true essence. The material of Truth is Spirit itself 
— inherent vital movement. The nature of God as pure Spirit, 
is manifested to man in the Christian Religion. 

But what is Spirit? It is the one immutably homogeneous 
Infinite — pure Identity — which in its second phase separates 
Vol. 23 O— Classics 


itself from itself and makes this second aspect its own polar 
opposite, viz. as existence for and in self as contrasted with 
the Universal. But this separation is annulled by the fact 
that atomistic Subjectivity, as simple relation to itself [as oc- 
cupied with self alone] is itself the Universal, the Identical 
with self. If Spirit be denned as absolute reflection within 
itself in virtue of its absolute duality — Love on the one hand 
as comprehending the Emotional [Empfindung], Knowledge 
on the other hand as Spirit [including the penetrative and ac- 
tive faculties, as opposed to the receptive] — it is recognized 
as Triune: the " Father " and the " Son," and that duality 
which essentially characterizes it as " Spirit." It must further 
be observed, that in this truth, the relation of man. to this truth 
is also posited. For Spirit makes itself its own [polar] oppo- 
site — and is the return from this opposite into itself. Com- 
prehended in pure ideality, that antithetic form of Spirit is the 
Son of God; reduced to limited and particular concep- 
tions, it is the World-Nature and Finite Spirit: Finite 
Spirit itself therefore is posited as a constituent element [Mo- 
ment] in the Divine Being. Man himself therefore is com- 
prehended in the Idea of God, and this comprehension may 
be thus expressed — that the unity of Man with God is posited 
in the Christian Religion. But this unity must not be super- 
ficially conceived, as if God were only Man, and Man, without 
further condition, were God. Man, on the contrary, is God 
only in so far as he annuls the merely Natural and Limited in 
his Spirit and elevates himself to God. That is to say,' it is 
obligatory on him who is a partaker of the truth, and knows 
that he himself is a constituent [Moment] of the Divine Idea, 
to give up his merely natural being: for the Natural is the 
Unspiritual. In this Idea of God, then, is to be found also 
the Reconciliation that heals the pain and inward suffering of 
man. For Suffering itself is henceforth recognized as an in- 
strument necessary for producing the unity of man with God. 
This implicit unity exists in the first place only for the thinking 
speculative consciousness ; but it must also exist for the sensu- 
ous, representative consciousness — it must become an object for 
the World — it must appear, and that in the sensuous form 
appropriate to Spirit, which is the human. Christ has appeared 
— a Man who is God — God who is Man ; and thereby peace and 
reconciliation have accrued to the World. Our thoughts nat- 


urally revert to the Greek anthropomorphism, of which we 
affirmed that it did not go far enough. For that natural elation 
of soul which characterized the Greeks did not rise to the Sub- 
jective Freedom of the Ego itself — to the inwardness that be- 
longs to the Christian Religion — to the recognition of Spirit 
as a definite positive being. — The appearance of the Christian 
God involves further its being unique in its kind ; it can occur 
only once, for God is realized as Subject, and as manifested 
Subjectivity is exclusively One Individual. The Lamas are 
ever and anon chosen anew ; because God is known in the East 
as Substance, whose infinity of form is recognized merely in an 
unlimited multeity of outward and particular manifestations. 
But subjectivity as infinite relation to self, has its form in itself, 
and as manifested, must be a unity excluding all others. — 
Moreover the sensuous existence in which Spirit is embodied 
is only a transitional phase. Christ dies; only as dead, is he 
exalted to Heaven and sits at the right hand of God; only 
thus is he Spirit. He himself says : " When I am no longer 
with you, the Spirit will guide you into all truth." Not till 
the Feast of Pentecost were the Apostles filled with the Holy 
Ghost. To the Apostles, Christ as living, was not that which 
he was to them subsequently as the Spirit of the Church, in 
which he became to them for the first time an object for their 
truly spiritual consciousness. On the same principle, we do 
not adopt the right point of view in thinking of Christ only 
as a historical bygone personality. So regarded, the question 
is asked, What are we to make of his birth, his Father and 
Mother, his early domestic relations, his miracles, etc.? — i.e. 
What is he unspiritually regarded ? Considered only in respect 
of his talents, character and morality — as a Teacher and so forth 
— we place him in the same category with Socrates and others, 
though his morality may be ranked higher. But excellence of 
character, morality, etc. — all this is not the ne plus ultra in the 
requirements of Spirit — does not enable man to gain the specu- 
lative idea of Spirit for his conceptive faculty. If Christ is 
to be looked upon only as an excellent, even impeccable indi- 
vidual, and nothing more, the conception of the Speculative 
Idea, of Absolute Truth is ignored. But this is the desider- 
atum, the point from which we have to start. Make of Christ 
what you will, exegetically, critically, historically — demon- 
strate as you please, how the doctrines of the Church were 


established by Councils attained currency as the result o\ 
this or that episcopal interest or passion, or originated in 
this or that quarter; — let all such circumstances have been 
what they might — the only concerning question is : What is the 
Idea or the Truth in and for itself ? 

Further, the real attestation of the Divinity of Christ is the 
witness of one's own Spirit — not Miracles; for only Spirit 
recognizes Spirit. The miracles may lead the way to such rec- 
ognition. A miracle implies that the natural course of things is 
interrupted: but it is very much a question of relation what 
we call the " natural course " ; and the phenomena of the mag- 
net might under cover of this definition, be reckoned miracu- 
lous. Nor does the miracle of the Divine Mission of Christ 
prove anything; for Socrates likewise introduced a new self- 
consciousness on the part of Spirit, diverse from the traditional 
tenor of men's conceptions. The main question is not his Di- 
vine Mission but the revelation made in Christ and the purport 
of his mission. Christ himself blames the Pharisees for desir- 
ing miracles of him, and speaks of false prophets who will per- 
form miracles. 

We have next to consider how the Christian view resulted 
in the formation of the Church. To pursue the rationale of its 
development from the Idea of Christianity would lead us too 
far, and we have here to indicate only the general phases which 
the process assumed. The first phase is the founding of the 
Christian religion, in which its principle is expressed with un- 
restrained energy, but in the first instance abstractly. This 
we find in the Gospels, where the, infinity of Spirit — its eleva- 
tion into the spiritual world [as the exclusively true and author- 
ized existence] — is the main theme. With transcendent bold- 
ness does Christ stand forth among the Jewish people. " Blessed 
are the pure in heart, for they shall see God," he proclaims in 
the Sermon on the Mount — a dictum of the noblest simplicity, 
and pregnant with an elastic energy of rebound against all the 
adventitious appliances with which the human soul can be 
burdened. The pure heart is the domain in which God is pres- 
ent to man : he who is imbued with the spirit of this apophthegm 
is armed against all alien bonds and superstitions. The other 
utterances are of the same tenor : " Blessed are the peacemak- 
ers : for they shall be called the children of God ; " and, 
" Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake : 


for theirs is the kingdom of heaven ; " and, " Be ye perfect, 
even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." Christ 
enforces here a completely unmistakable requirement. The 
infinite exaltation of Spirit to absolute purity is placed at the 
beginning as the foundation of all. The form of the instru- 
mentality by which that result is to be accomplished is not yet 
given, but the result itself is the subject of an absolute com- 
mand. As regards the relation of this standpoint of Spirit 
to secular existence, we find that spiritual purity presented as 
the substantial basis. " Seek ye first the kingdom of God and 
his righteousness, and all things shall be added unto you ; " and, 
" The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be com- 
pared with that glory." * Here Christ says that outward suf- 
ferings, as such, are not to be feared or fled from, for they are 
nothing as compared with that glory. Further on, this doc- 
trine, as the natural consequence of its appearing in an abstract 
form, assumes a polemical direction. " If thy right eye offend 
thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee: if thy right hand 
offend thee, cut it off and cast it from thee. It is better that 
one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole 
body should be cast into hell." Whatever might disturb the 
purity of the soul, should be destroyed. So in reference to 
property and worldly gain, it is said : " Care not for your life, 
what ye shall eat and drink, nor for your body, what ye shall 
put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body more than 
raiment? Behold the fowls of the air : for they sow not, neither 
do they reap, nor gather into barns ; yet your heavenly Father 
f eedeth them. Are ye not much better than they ? " Labor 
for subsistence is thus reprobated : " Wilt thou be perfect, go 
and sell what thou hast, and give it to the poor, so shalt thou 
have a treasure in heaven, and come, follow me." Were this 
precept directly complied with, a social revolution must take 
place ; the poor would become the rich. Of such supreme mo- 
ment, it is implied, is the doctrine of Christ, that all duties and 
moral bonds are unimportant as compared with it. To a youth 
who wishes to delay the duties of discipleship till he has buried 
his father, Christ says : " Let the dead bury their dead — follow 
thou me." " He that loveth father or mother more than me is 
not worthy of me." He said : " Who is my mother ? and who 
are my brethren? and stretched his hand out over his disciples 

* The words in the text occur in Rom. viii. 18, but the import of Matt. v. 12, is 
nearly the same. 


and said, Behold my mother and my brethren ! For he that 
doeth the will of my Father in heaven, the same is my brother, 
and sister and mother." Yes, it is even said : " Think not that 
I am come to send peace on the Earth. I am not come to send 
peace but the sword. For I am come to set a man against his 
father, and the daughter against her mother, and the mother- 
in-law against her daughter-in-law." Here then is an abstrac- 
tion from all that belongs to reality, even from moral ties. We 
may say that nowhere are to be found such revolutionary utter- 
ances as in the Gospels ; for everything that had been respected, 
is treated as a matter of indifference — as worthy of no regard. 

The next point is the development of this principle; and 
the whole sequel of History is the history of its development. 
Its first realization is the formation by the friends of Christ, 
of a Society — a Church. It has been already remarked that 
only after the death of Christ could the Spirit come upon his 
friends ; that only then were they able to conceive the true idea 
of God, viz., that in Christ man is redeemed and reconciled: 
for in him the idea of eternal truth is recognized, the essence 
of man acknowledged to be Spirit, and the fact proclaimed that 
only by stripping himself of his finiteness and surrendering 
himself to pure self-consciousness, does he attain the truth. 
Christ — man as man — in whom the unity of God and man has 
appeared, has in his death, and his history generally, himself 
presented the eternal history of Spirit — a history which every 
man has to accomplish in himself, in order to exist as Spirit, 
or to become a child of God, a citizen of his kingdom. The 
followers of Christ, who combine on this principle and live in 
the spiritual life as their aim, form the Church, which is the 
Kingdom of God. " Where two or three are gathered together 
in my name " (i.e. " in the character of partakers in my being ") 
says Christ, " there am I in the midst of them." The Church 
is a real present life in the Spirit of Christ. 

It is important that the Christian religion be not limited 
to the teachings of Christ himself: it is in the Apostles that 
the completed and developed truth is first exhibited. This 
complex of thought unfolded itself in the Christian community. 
That community, in its first experiences, found itself sustaining 
a double relation — first, a relation to the Roman World, and 
secondly, to the truth whose development was its aim. We will 
pursue these different relations separately. 



The Christian community found itself in the Roman world, 
and in this world the extension of the Christian religion was 
to take place. That community must therefore keep itself re- 
moved from all activity in the State — constitute itself a separate 
company, and not react against the decrees, views, and trans- 
actions of the state. But as it was secluded from the state, and 
consequently did not hold the Emperor for its absolute sover- 
eign, it was the object of persecution and hate. Then was 
manifested that infinite inward liberty which it enjoyed, in the 
great steadfastness with which sufferings and sorrows were 
patiently borne for the sake of the highest truth. It^was less 
the miracles of the Apostles that gave to Christianity its out- 
ward extension and inward strength, than the substance, the 
truth of the doctrine itself. Christ himself says : " Many will 
say to me at that day: Lord, Lord! have we not prophesied 
in thy name, have we not cast out devils in thy name, have we 
not in thy name done many wonderful deeds? Then will I 
profess unto them: I never knew you, depart from me all ye 
workers of iniquity." 

As regards its other relation, viz., that to the Truth, it is 
especially important to remark that the Dogma — the Theoreti- 
cal — was already matured within the Roman World, while we 
find the development of the State from that principle, a much 
later growth. The Fathers of the Church and the Councils 
constituted the dogma ; but a chief element in this constitution 
was supplied by the previous development of philosophy. Let 
us examine more closely how the philosophy of the time stood 
related to religion. It has already been remarked that the 
Roman inwardness and subjectivity, which presented itself only 
abstractly, as soulless personality in the exclusive position as- 
sumed by the Ego, was refined by the philosophy of Stoicism 
and Scepticism to the form of Universality. The ground of 
Thought was thereby reached, and God was known in Thought 
as the One Infinite. The Universal stands here only as an 
unimportant predicate — not itself a Subject, but requiring a 
concrete particular application to make it such. But the One 
and Universal, the Illimitable conceived by fancy, is essentially 
Oriental ; for measureless conceptions, carrying all limited ex- 
istence beyond its proper bounds, are indigenous to the East. 
Presented in the domain of Thought itself, the Oriental One is 
the invisible and non-sensuous God of the Israelitish people, 


but whom they also make an object of conception as a person. 
This principle became World-Historical with Christianity. — 
In the Roman World, the union of the East and West had taken 
place in the first instance by means of conquest: it took place 
now inwardly, psychologically, also; — the Spirit of the East 
spreading over the West. The worship of Isis and that of 
Mithra had been extended through the whole Roman World; 
Spirit, lost in the outward and in limited aims, yearned after 
an Infinite. But the West desired a deeper, purely inward Uni- 
versality — an Infinite possessed at the same time of positive 
qualities v Again, it was in Egypt — in Alexandria, viz., the 
centre -f communication between the East and the West — that 
the problem of the age was proposed for Thought; and the 
solution now found was — Spirit. There the two principles 
came into scientific contact, and were scientifically worked out. 
It is especially remarkable to observe there, learned Jews such 
as Philo, connecting abstract forms of the concrete, which they 
derived from Plato and Aristotle, with their conception of the 
Infinite, and recognizing God according to the more concrete 
idea of Spirit, under the definition of the Aoyos. So, also, did 
the profound thinkers of Alexandria comprehend the unity of 
the Platonic and Aristotelian Philosophy ; and their speculative 
thinking attained those abstract ideas which are likewise the 
fundamental purport of the Christian religion. The application, 
by way of postulate, to the pagan religion, of ideas recognized 
as true, was a direction which philosophy had already taken 
among the heathen. Plato had altogether repudiated the current 
mythology, and, with his followers, was accused of Atheism. 
The Alexandrians, on the contrary, endeavored to demonstrate 
a speculative truth in the Greek conceptions of the gods: and 
the Emperor Julian the Apostate resumed the attempt, assert- 
ing that the pagan ceremonials had a strict connection with 
rationality. The heathen felt, as it were, obliged to give to 
their divinities the semblance of something higher than sensu- 
ous conceptions ; they therefore attempted to spiritualize them. 
Thus much is also certain, that the Greek religion contains a 
degree of Reason ; for the substance of Spirit is Reason, and 
its product must be something Rational. It makes a difference, 
however, whether Reason is explicitly developed in Religion, 
or merely adumbrated by it, as constituting its hidden basis. 
And while the Greeks thus spiritualized their sensuous divin- 


ities, the Christians also, on their side, sought for a profounder 
sense in the historical part of their religion. Just as Philo found 
a deeper import shadowed forth in the Mosaic record, and 
idealized what he considered the bare shell of the narrative, 
so also did the Christians treat their records — partly with a 
polemic view, but still more largely from a free and spontaneous 
interest in the process. But the instrumentality of philosophy 
in introducing these dogmas into the Christian Religion, is no 
sufficient ground for asserting that they were foreign to Chris- 
tianity and had nothing to do with it. It is a matter of perfect 
indifference where a thing originated; the only question is: 
" Is it true in and for itself ? " Many think that by pronouncing 
the doctrine to be Neo-Platonic, they have ipso facto banished 
it from Christianity. Whether a Christian doctrine stands ex- 
actly thus or thus in the Bible — the point to which the exegeti- 
cal scholars of modern times devote all their attention — is not 
the only question. The Letter kills, the Spirit makes alive: 
this they say themselves, yet pervert the sentiment by taking 
the Understanding for the Spirit. It was the Church that rec- 
ognized and established the doctrines in question — i.e. the 
Spirit of the Church ; and it is itself an Article of Doctrine : 
"I believe in a Holy Church;"* as Christ himself also said: 
" The Spirit will guide you into all truth." In the Nicene 
Council (a.d. 325), was ultimately established a fixed confes- 
sion of faith, to which we still adhere : this confession had not, 
indeed, a speculative form, but the profoundly speculative is 
most intimately inwoven with the manifestation of Christ him- 
self. Even in John (iv apxfl V v A.6705, teal 6 \6705 r\v 7rpb<; rbv 
@ebv, Kai @eo? r\v 6 X0705) we see the commencement of a pro- 
founder comprehension. The profoundest thought is con- 
nected with the personality of Christ — with the historical and 
external ; and it is the very grandeur of the Christian religion 
that, with all this profundity, it is easy of comprehension by 
our consciousness in its outward aspect, while, at the same time, 
it summons us to penetrate deeper. It is thus adapted to every 
grade of culture, and yet satisfies the highest requirements. 

Having spoken of the relation of the Christian community 
to the Roman world on the one side, and to the truth contained 
in its doctrines on the other side, we come to the third point — 

* In the Lutheran ritual. " a holy " the Holy Catholic Church," in the Be- 
Catholic Church " is substituted for lief. 

33 2 


in which both doctrine and the external world are concerned — 
the Church. The Christian community is the Kingdom of 
Christ — its influencing present Spirit being Christ: for this 
kingdom has an actual existence, not a merely future one. This 
spiritual actuality has, therefore, also a phenomenal existence; 
and that, not only as contrasted with heathenism, but with sec- 
ular existence generally. For the Church, as presenting this 
outward existence, is not merely a religion as opposed to an- 
other religion, but is at the same time a particular form of 
secular existence, occupying a place side by side with other 
secular existence. The religious existence of the Church is 
governed by Christ ; the secular side of its government is left 
to the free choice of the members themselves. Into this king- 
dom of God an organization must be introduced. In the first 
instance, all the members know themselves filled with the 
Spirit ; the whole community perceives the truth and gives ex- 
pression to it; yet, together with this common participation 
of spiritual influence, arises the necessity of a presidency of 
guidance and teaching — a body distinct from the community 
at large. Those are chosen as presidents who are distinguished 
for talents, character, fervor of piety, a holy life, learning, and 
culture generally. The presidents — those who have a superior 
acquaintance with that substantial Life of which all are par- 
takers, and who are instructors in that Life — those who estab- 
lish what is truth, and those who dispense its enjoyment — are 
distinguished from the community at large, as persons en- 
dowed with knowledge and governing power are from the gov- 
erned. To the intelligent presiding body, the Spirit comes in 
a fully revealed and explicit form ; in the mass of the commu- 
nity that Spirit is only implicit. While, therefore, in the pre- 
siding body, the Spirit exists as self-appreciating and self- 
cognizant, it becomes an authority in spiritual as well as in 
secular matters — an authority for the truth and for the relation 
of each individual to the truth, determining how he should 
conduct himself so as to act in accordance with the Truth. This 
distinction occasions the rise of an Ecclesiastical Kingdom in 
the Kingdom of God. Such a distinction is inevitable ; but the 
existence of an authoritative government for the Spiritual, 
when closely examined, shows that human subjectivity in its 
proper form has not yet developed itself. In the heart, indeed, 
i the evil will is surrendered, but the will, as human, is not yet 



interpenetrated by the Deity; the human will is emancipated 
only abstractly — not in its concrete reality — for the whole se- 
quel of History is occupied with the realization of this concrete 
Freedom. Up to this point, finite Freedom has been only an- 
nulled, to make way for infinite Freedom. The latter has not 
yet penetrated secular existence with its rays. Subjective 
Freedom has not yet attained validity as such : Insight [specu- 
lative conviction] does not yet rest on a basis of its own, but 
is content to inhere in the spirit of an extrinsic authority. That 
Spiritual [geistig] kingdom has, therefore, assumed the shape 
of an Ecclesiastical [geistlich] one, as the relation of the sub- 
stantial being and essence of Spirit to human Freedom. Be- 
sides the interior organization already mentioned, we find the 
Christian community assuming also a definite external posi- 
tion, and becoming the possessor of property of its own. As 
property belonging to the spiritual world, it is presumed to 
enjoy special protection; and the immediate inference from 
this is, that the Church has no dues to pay to the state, and that 
ecclesiastical persons are not amenable to the jurisdiction of 
the secular courts. This entails the government by the Church 
itself of ecclesiastical property and ecclesiastical persons. Thus 
there originates with the Church the contrasted spectacle of 
a body consisting only of private persons and the power of the 
Emperor on the secular side; — on the other side, the perfect 
democracy of the spiritual community, choosing its own presi- 
dent. Priestly consecration, however, soon changes this de- 
mocracy into aristocracy; — though the further development of 
the Church does not belong to the period now under considera- 
tion, but must be referred to the world of a later date. 

It was then through the Christian Religion that the Absolute 
Idea of God, in its true conception, attained consciousness. 
Here Man, too, finds himself comprehended in his true nature, 
given in the specific conception of " the Son." Man, finite 
when regarded for himself, is yet at the same time the Image 
of God and a fountain of infinity in himself. He is the object 
of his own existence — has in himself an infinite value, an eter- 
nal destiny. Consequently he has his true home in a super- 
sensuous world — an infinite subjectivity, gained only by a rupt- 
ure with mere Natural existence and volition, and by his labor 
to break their power within him. This is religious self-con- 
sciousness. But in order to enter the sphere and display the 


active vitality of that religious life, humanity must become 
capable of it. This capability is the Suva/xis for that ivepyeia. 
What therefore remains to be considered is, those conditions 
of humanity which are the necessary corollary to the considera- 
tion that Man is Absolute Self-consciousness — his Spiritual 
nature being the starting-point and presupposition. These con- 
ditions are themselves not yet of a concrete order, but simply 
the first abstract principles, which are won by the instrumen- 
tality of the Christian Religion for the secular State. First, 
under Christianity Slavery is impossible; for man is man — ■ 
in the abstract essence of his nature — is contemplated in God ; 
each unit of mankind is an object of the grace of God and of 
the Divine purpose : " God will have all men to be saved." 
Utterly excluding all speciality, therefore, man, in and for him- 
self — in his simple quality of man — has infinite value ; and this 
infinite value abolishes, ipso facto, all particularity attaching to 
birth or country. The other, the second principle, regards the 
subjectivity of man in its bearing on the Fortuitous — on Chance. 
Humanity has this sphere of free Spirituality in and for itself, 
and everything else must proceed from it. The place appro- 
priated to the abode and presence of the Divine Spirit— the 
sphere in question — is Spiritual Subjectivity, and is consti- 
tuted the place to which all contingency is amenable. It fol- 
lows thence, that what we observed among the Greeks as a form 
of Customary Morality, cannot maintain its position in the 
Christian world. For that morality is spontaneous unreflected 
Wont; while the Christian principle is independent subjectiv- 
ity — the soil on which grows the True. Now an unreflected 
morality cannot continue to hold its ground against the prin- 
ciple of Subjective Freedom. Greek Freedom was that of 
Hap and " Genius " ; it was still conditioned by Slaves and 
Oracles ; but now the principle of absolute Freedom in God 
makes its appearance. Man now no longer sustains the rela- 
tion of Dependence, but of Love — in the consciousness that he 
is a partaker in the Divine existence. In regard to particular 
aims [such as the Greeks referred to oracular decision], man 
now forms his own determinations and recognizes himself as 
plenipotentiary in regard to all finite existence. All that is spe- 
cial retreats into the background before that Spiritual sphere 
of subjectivity, which takes a secondary position only in pres- 
ence of the Divine Spirit. The superstition of oracles and 


auspices is thereby entirely abrogated: Man is recognized as 
the absolute authority in crises of decision. 

It is the two principles just treated of, that now attach to 
Spirit in this its self-contained phase. The inner shrine of 
man is designed, on the one hand, to train the citizen of the 
religious life to bring himself into harmony with the Spirit of 
God ; on the other hand, this is the point du depart for deter- 
mining secular relations, and its condition is the theme of Chris- 
tian History. The change which piety effects must not remain 
concealed in the recesses of the heart, but must become an 
actual, present world, complying with the conditions pre- 
scribed by that Absolute Spirit. Piety of heart does not, per se, 
involve the submission of the subjective will, in its external 
relations, to that piety. On the contrary we see all passions in- 
creasingly rampant in the sphere of reality, because that sphere 
is looked down upon with contempt, from the lofty position 
attained by the world of mind, as one destitute of all claim arid 
value. The problem to be solved is therefore the imbuing of the 
sphere of [ordinary] unreflected Spiritual existence, with the 
Idea of Spirit. A general observation here suggests itself. From 
time immemorial it has been customary to assume an opposition 
between Reason and Religion, as also between Religion and the 
World; but on investigation this turns out to be only a dis- 
tinction. Reason in general is the Positive Existence [Wesen] 
of Spirit, divine as well as human. The distinction between 
Religion and the World is only this — that Religion as such, is 
Reason in the soul and heart — that it is a temple in which Truth 
and Freedom in God are presented to the conceptive faculty: 
the State, on the other hand, regulated by the selfsame Reason, 
is a temple of Human Freedom concerned with the perception 
and volition of a reality, whose purport may itself be called 
divine. Thus Freedom in the State is preserved and estab- 
lished by Religion, since moral rectitude in the State is only 
the carrying out of that which constitutes the fundamental 
principle of Religion. The process displayed in History is only 
the manifestation of Religion as Human Reason — the produc- 
tion of the religious principle which dwells in the heart of man, 
under the form of Secular Freedom. Thus the discord between 
the inner life of the heart and the actual world is removed. To 
realize this is, however, the vocation of another people — or 
other peoples — viz., the German. In ancient Rome itself, Chris- 


tianity cannot find a ground on which it may become actual, 
and develop an empire. 

Chapter III. — The Byzantine Empire 

With Constantine the Great the Christian religion ascended 
the throne of the empire. He was followed by a succession of 
Christian Emperors, interrupted only by Julian — who however, 
could do but little for the prostrate ancient faith. The Roman 
Empire embraced the whole civilized earth, from the Western 
Ocean to the Tigris — from the interior of Africa, to the Danube 
(Pannonia, Dacia). Christianity soon spread through the 
length and breadth of this enormous realm. Rome had long 
ceased to be the exclusive residence of the Emperors. Many 
of Constantine's predecessors had resided in Milan or other 
places ; and he himself established a second court in the ancient 
Byzantium, which received the name of Constantinople. From 
the first its population consisted chiefly of Christians, and Con- 
stantine lavished every appliance to render this new abode equal 
in splendor to the old. The empire still remained in its integrity 
till Theodosius the Great made permanent a separation that 
had been only occasional, and divided it between his two sons. 
The reign of Theodosius displayed the last faint glimmer of 
that splendor which had glorified the Roman world. Under 
him the pagan temples were shut, the sacrifices and ceremonies 
abolished, and paganism itself forbidden: gradually however 
it entirely vanished of itself. The heathen orators of the time 
cannot sufficiently express their wonder and astonishment at 
the monstrous contrast between the days of their forefathers 
and their own. " Our Temples have become Tombs. The 
places which were formerly adorned with the holy statues of 
the Gods are now covered with sacred bones (relics of the 
Martyrs) ; men who have suffered a shameful death for their 
crimes, whose bodies are covered with stripes, and whose heads 
have been embalmed,' are the object of veneration." All that 
was contemned is exalted ; all that was formerly revered, is 
trodden in the dust. The last of the pagans express this enor- 
mous contrast with profound lamentation. 

The Roman Empire was divided between the two sons of 
Theodosius. The elder, Arcadius, received the Eastern Em- 
pire : — Ancient Greece, with Thrace, Asia Minor, Syria, Egypt ; 


the younger, Honorius, the Western : — Italy, Africa, Spain, 
Gaul, Britain. Immediately after the death of Theodosius, 
confusion entered, and the Roman provinces were overwhelmed 
by alien peoples. Already, under the Emperor Valens, the Visi- 
goths, pressed by the Huns, had solicited a domicile on the 
hither side of the Danube. This was granted them, on the con- 
dition that they should defend the border provinces of the em- 
pire. But maltreatment roused them to revolt. Valens was 
beaten and fell on the field. The later emperors paid court to 
the leader of these Goths. Alaric, the bold Gothic Chief, turned 
his arms against Italy. Stilicho, the general and minister of 
Honorius, stayed his course, a.d. 403, by the battle of Pollentia, 
as at a later date he also routed Radagaisus, leader of the 
Alans, Suevi, and others. Alaric now attacked Gaul and Spain, 
and on the fall of Stilicho returned to Italy. Rome was stormed 
and plundered by him a.d. 410. Afterwards Attila advanced 
on it with the terrible might of the Huns — one of those purely 
Oriental phenomena, which, like a mere storm-torrent, rise to 
a furious height and bear down everything in their course, but 
in a brief space are so completely spent, that nothing is seen of 
them but the traces they have left in the ruins which they have 
occasioned. Attila pressed into Gaul, where, a.d. 451, a vig- 
orous resistance was offered him by ^Etius, near Chalons on 
the Marne. Victory remained doubtful. Attila subsequently 
marched upon Italy and died in the year 453. Soon afterwards 
however Rome was taken and plundered by the Vandals under 
Genseric. Finally, the dignity of the Western Emperors be- 
came a farce, and their empty title was abolished by Odoacer, 
King of the Heruli. 

The Eastern Empire long survived, and in the West a new 
Christian population was formed from the invading barbarian 
hordes. Christianity had at first kept aloof from the state, and 
the development which it experienced related to doctrine, in- 
ternal organization, discipline, etc. But now it had become 
dominant: it was now a political power, a political motive. 
We now see Christianity under two forms: on the one side 
barbarian nations whose culture was yet to begin, who have 
to acquire the very rudiments of science, law, and polity; on 
other side civilized peoples in possession of Greek science and 
a highly refined Oriental culture. Municipal legislation among 
them was complete — having reached the highest perfection 


through the labors of the great Roman jurisconsults ; so that 
the corpus juris compiled at the instance of the Emperor Jus- 
tinian, still excites the admiration of the world. Here the 
Christian religion is placed in the midst of a developed civiliza- 
tion, which did not proceed from it. There, on the contrary, 
the process of culture has its very first step still to take, and 
that within the sphere of Christianity. 

These two empires, therefore, present a most remarkable 
contrast, in which we have before our eyes a grand example 
of the necessity of a people's having its culture developed in the 
spirit of the Christian religion. The history of the highly 
civilized Eastern Empire — where as we might suppose, the 
Spirit of Christianity could be taken up in its truth and purity 
— exhibits to us a millennial series of uninterrupted crimes, 
weaknesses, basenesses and want of principle ; a most repulsive 
and consequently a most uninteresting picture. It is evident 
here, how Christianity may be abstract, and how as such it is 
powerless, on account of its very purity and intrinsic spiritual- 
ity. It may even be entirely separated from the World, as e.g. 
in Monasticism — which originated in Egypt. It is a common 
notion and saying, in reference to the power of Religion, ab- 
stractly considered, over the hearts of men, that if Christian 
love were universal, private and political life would both be 
perfect, and the state of mankind would be thoroughly right- 
eous and moral. Such representations may be a pious wish, 
but do not possess truth; for religion is something internal, 
having to do with conscience alone. To it all the passions and 
desires are opposed, and in order that heart, will, intelligence 
may become true, they must be thoroughly educated; Right 
must become Custom — Habit ; practical activity must be ele- 
vated to rational action ; the State must have a rational organ- 
ization, and then at length does the will of individuals become 
a truly righteous one. Light shining in darkness may perhaps 
give color, but not a picture animated by Spirit. The Byzantine 
Empire is a grand example of how the Christian religion may 
maintain an abstract character among a cultivated people, if 
the whole organization of the State and of the Laws is not 
reconstructed in harmony with its principle. At Byzantium 
Christianity had fallen into the hands of the dregs of the popu- 
lation — the lawless mob. Popular license on the one side and 
courtly baseness on the other side, take refuge under the sane- 



tion of religion, and degrade the latter to a disgusting object. 
In regard to religion, two interests obtained prominence : first, 
the settlement of doctrine; and secondly, the appointment to 
ecclesiastical offices. The settlement of doctrine pertained to 
the Councils and Church authorities; but the principle of 
Christianity is Freedom — subjective insight. These matters 
therefore, were special subjects of contention for the populace; 
violent civil wars arose, and everywhere might be witnessed 
scenes of murder, conflagration and pillage, perpetrated in the 
cause of Christian dogmas. A famous schism e.g. occurred 
in reference to the dogma of the Tpiardyiov. The words read: 
" Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God of Zebaoth." To this, one 
party, in honor of Christ, added — " who was crucified for us." 
Another party rejected the addition, and sanguinary struggles 
ensued. In the contest on the question whether Christ were 
o/xoovcrios or ofMoioixno^ — that is of the same or of similar nat- 
ure with God — the one letter i cost many thousands their lives. 
Especially notorious are the contentions about Images, in which 
it often happened, that the Emperor declared for the images 
and the Patriarch against, or conversely. Streams of blood 
flowed as the result. Gregory Nazianzen says somewhere: 
"This city (Constantinople) is full of handicraftsmen and 
slaves, who are all profound theologians, and preach in their 
workshops and in the streets. If you want a man to change 
a piece of silver, he instructs you in what consists the distinc- 
tion between the Father and the Son: if you ask the price of a 
loaf of bread, you receive for answer — that the Son is inferior 
to the Father ; and if you ask, whether the bread is ready, the 
rejoinder is that the genesis of the Son was from Nothing." 
The Idea of Spirit contained in this doctrine was thus treated 
in an utterly unspiritual manner. The appointment to the 
Patriarchate at Constantinople, Antioch and Alexandria, and 
the jealousy and ambition of the Patriarchs likewise occasioned 
many intestine struggles. To all these religious contentions 
was added the interest in the gladiators and their combats, and 
in the parties of the blue and green color, which likewise occa- 
sioned the bloodiest encounters ; a sign of the most fearful 
degradation, as proving that all feeling for what is serious and 
elevated is lost, and that the delirium of religious passion is 
quite consistent with an appetite for gross and barbarous spec- 


The chief points in the Christian religion were at last, by de- 
grees, established by the Councils. The Christians of the By- 
zantine Empire remained sunk in the dream of superstition — 
persisting in blind obedience to the Patriarchs and the priest- 
hood. Image- Worship, to which we alluded above, occasioned 
the most violent struggles and storms. The brave Emperor 
Leo the Isaurian in particular, persecuted images with the 
greatest obstinacy, and in the year 754, Image- Worship was 
declared by a Council to be an invention of the devil. Never- 
theless, in the year 787 the Empress Irene had it restored under 
the authority of a Nicene Council, and the Empress Theodora 
definitively established it — proceeding against its enemies with 
energetic rigor. The iconoclastic Patriarch received two hun- 
dred blows, the bishops trembled, the monks exulted, and the 
memory of this orthodox proceeding was celebrated by an an- 
nual ecclesiastical festival. The West, on the contrary, repu- 
diated Image- Worship as late as the year 794, in the Council 
held at Frankfort ; and, though retaining the images, blamed 
most severely the superstition of the Greeks. Not till the later 
Middle Ages did Image- Worship meet with universal adoption 
as the result of quiet and slow advances. 

The Byzantine Empiie was thus distracted by passions of all 
kinds within, and pressed by the barbarians — to whom the Em- 
perors could offer but feeble resistance — without. The realm 
was in a condition of perpetual insecurity. Its general aspect 
presents a disgusting picture of imbecility ; wretched, nay, in- 
sane passions, stifle the growth of all that is noble in thoughts, 
deeds, and persons. Rebellion on the part of generals, deposi- 
tions of the Emperors by their means or through the intrigues 
of the courtiers, assassination or poisoning of the Emperors 
by their own wives and sons, women surrendering themselves 
to lusts and abominations of all kinds — such are the scenes 
which History here brings before us; till at last — about the 
middle of the fifteenth century (a.d. 1453) — tri e rotten edifice 
of the Eastern Empire crumbled in pieces before the might of 
the vigorous Turks. 



THE German Spirit is the Spirit of the new World. Its 
aim is the realization of absolute Truth as the unilimited 
self-determination of Freedom — that Freedom which 
has its own absolute form itself as its purport.* The destiny 
of the German peoples is, to be the bearers of the Christian 
principle. The principle of Spiritual Freedom — of Reconcilia- 
tion [of the Objective and Subjective], was introduced into- the 
still simple, unformed minds of those peoples ; and the part as- 
signed them in the service of the World- Spirit was that of not 
merely possessing the Idea of Freedom as the substratum of 
their religious conceptions, but of producing it in free and 
spontaneous developments from their subjective self-conscious- 

In entering on the task of dividing the German World into 
its natural periods, we must remark that we have not, as was 
the case in treating of the Greeks and Romans, a double exter- 
nal relation — backwards to an earlier World-Historical people, 
and forwards to a later one — to guide us. History shows that 
the process of development among the peoples now under con- 
sideration, was an altogether different one. The Greeks and 
Romans had reached maturity within, ere they directed their 
energies outwards. The Germans, on the contrary, began with 
self-diffusion — deluging the world, and overpowering in their 
course the inwardly rotten, hollow political fabrics of the civil- 
ized nations. Only then did their development begin, kindled 
by a foreign culture, a foreign religion, polity and legislation. 
The process of culture they underwent consisted in taking up 

* That is: The Supreme Law of the fore is the only absolutely free and un- 

Universe is recognized as identical with limited power — is no longer a compul- 

the dictates of Conscience — becomes a sory enactment, but the free choice of 

" law of liberty." Morality— that author- human beings. The good man would 

ity which has the incontestable right to make Law for himself if he found none 

determine men's actions, which there- made for him. 



foreign elements and reductively amalgamating them with their 
own national life. Thus their history presents an introver- 
sion — the attraction of alien forms of life and the bringing 
these to bear upon their own. In the Crusades, indeed, and 
in the discovery of America, the Western World directed its 
energies outwards. But it was not thus brought in contact 
with a World-Historical people that had preceded it ; it did not 
dispossess a principle that had previously governed the world. 
The relation to an extraneous principle here only accompanies 
[does not constitute] the history — does not bring with it essen- 
tial changes in the nature of those conditions which character- 
ize the peoples in question, but rather wears the aspect of in- 
ternal evolution.* — The relation to o f her countries and periods 
is thus entirely different from that sustained by the Greeks and 
Romans. For the Christian world is the world of completion ; 
the grand principle of being is realized, consequently the end 
of days is fully come. The Idea can discover in Christianity 
no point in the aspirations of Spirit that is not satisfied. For 
its individual members, the Church is, it is true, a preparation 
for an eternal state as something future; since the units who 
compose it, in their isolated and several capacity, occupy a posi- 
tion of particularity : but the Church has also the Spirit of 
God actually present in it, it forgives the sinner and is a present 
kingdom of heaven. Thus the Christian World has no absolute 
existence outside its sphere, but only a relative one which is 
already implicitly vanquished, and in respect to which its only 
concern is to make it apparent that this conquest has taken 
place. Hence it follows that an external reference ceases to 
be the characteristic element determining the epochs of the mod- 
ern world. We have therefore to look for another principle of 

The German World took up the Roman culture and religion 
in their completed form. There was indeed a German and 
Northern religion, but it had by no means taken deep root in 
the soul ; Tacitus therefore calls the Germans : " Securi ad- 
versus Deos." The Christian Religion which they adopted, had 
received from Councils and Fathers of the Church, who pos- 
sessed the whole culture, and in particular, the philosophy of 
the Greek and Roman World, a perfected dogmatic system; 

* The influence of the Crusades and of reflex. No other phase of humanity was 
the discovery of America was simply thereby merged in Christendom. 



the Church, too, had a completely developed hierarchy. To 
the native tongue of the Germans, the Church likewise opposed 
one perfectly developed — the Latin. In art and philosophy a 
similar alien influence predominated. What of Alexandrian 
and of formal Aristotelian philosophy was still preserved in the 
writings of Boethius and elsewhere, became the fixed basis of 
speculative thought in the West for many centuries. The same 
principle holds in regard to the form of the secular sovereignty. 
Gothic and other chiefs gave themselves the name of Roman 
Patricians, and at a later date the Roman Empire was restored. 
Thus the German world appears, superficially, to be only a 
continuation of the Roman. But there lived in it an entirely 
new Spirit, through which the World was to be regenerated — 
the free Spirit, viz. which reposes on itself — the absolutely self- 
determination [Eigensinn] of subjectivity. To this self-in- 
volved subjectivity, the corresponding objectivity [Inhalt] 
stands opposed as absolutely alien. The distinction and antith- 
esis which is evolved from these principles, is that of Church 
and State. On the one side, the Church develops itself, as the 
embodiment of absolute Truth; for it is the consciousness of 
this truth, and at the same time the agency for rendering the 
Individual harmonious with it. On the other side stands sec- 
ular consciousness, which, with its aims, occupies the world 
of Limitation — the State, based on Heart [emotional and thence 
social affections] or mutual confidence and subjectivity gener- 
ally. European history is the exhibition of the growth of each 
of these principles severally, in Church and State ; then of an 
antithesis on the part of both — not only of the one to the other, 
but appearing within the sphere of each of these bodies them- 
selves (since each of them is itself a totality) ; lastly, of the 
harmonizing of the antithesis. 

The three periods of this world will have to be treated ac- 

The first begins with the appearance of the German Nations 
in the Roman Empire — the incipient development of these peo- 
ples, converts to Christianity, and now established in the pos- 
session of the West. Their barbarous and simple character 
prevents this initial period from possessing any great interest. 
The Christian world then presents itself as " Christendom " — 
one mass, in which the Spiritual and the Secular form only dif- 
ferent aspects. This epoch extends to Charlemagne. 



The second period develops the two sides of the antithesis to 
a logically consequential independence and opposition — the 
Church for itself as a Theocracy, and the State for itself as a 
Feudal Monarchy. Charlemagne had formed an alliance with 
the Holy See against the Lombards and the factions of the 
nobles in Rome. A union thus arose between the spiritual and 
the secular power, and a kingdom of heaven on earth promised 
to follow in the wake of this conciliation. But just at this time, 
instead of a spiritual kingdom of heaven, the inwardness of the 
Christian principle wears the appearance of being altogether 
directed outwards and leaving its proper sphere. Christian 
Freedom is perverted to its very opposite, both in a religious 
and secular respect ; on the one hand to the severest bondage, 
on the other hand to the most immoral excess — a barbarous 
intensity of every passion. In this period two aspects of society 
are to be especially noticed : the first is the formation of states 
— superior and inferior suzerainties exhibiting a regulated sub- 
ordination, so that every relation becomes a firmly-fixed private 
right, excluding a sense of universality. This regulated sub- 
ordination appears in the Feudal System. The second aspect 
presents the antithesis of Church and State. This antithesis 
exists solely because the Church, to whose management the 
Spiritual was committed, itself sinks down into every kind of 
worldliness — a worldliness which appears only the more de- 
testable, because all passions assume the sanction of religion. 

The time of Charles V's reign — i.e., the first half of the 
sixteenth century — forms the end of the second, and likewise 
the beginning of the third period. Secularity appears now as 
gaining a consciousness of its intrinsic worth — becomes aware 
of its having a value of its own in the morality, rectitude, prob- 
ity and activity of man. The consciousness of independent 
validity is aroused through the restoration of Christian free- 
dom. The Christian principle has now passed through the 
terrible discipline of culture, and it first attains truth and reality 
through the Reformation. This third period of the German 
World extends from the Reformation to our own times. The 
principle of Free Spirit is here made the banner of the World, 
and from this principle are evolved the universal axioms of 
Reason. Formal Thought — the Understanding — had been al- 
ready developed; but Thought received its true material first 
with the Reformation, through the reviviscent concrete con- 



sciousness of Free Spirit. From that epoch Thought began 
to gain a culture properly its own: principles were derived 
from it which were to be the norm for the constitution of the 
State. Political life was now to be consciously regulated by 
Reason. Customary morality, traditional usage lost its valid- 
ity; the various claims insisted upon, must prove their legit- 
imacy as based on rational principles. Not till this era is the 
Freedom of Spirit realized. 

We may distinguish these periods as Kingdoms of the Father, 
i the Son, and the Spirit.* The Kingdom of the Father is the 
consolidated, undistinguished mass, presenting a self-repeating 
cycle, mere change — like that sovereignty of Chronos engulfing 
his offspring. The Kingdom of the Son is the manifestation 
of God merely in a relation to secular existence — shining upon 
it as upon an alien object. The Kingdom of the Spirit is the 
harmonizing of the antithesis. 

These epochs may be also compared with the earlier em- 
pires. In the German aeon, as the realm of Totality, we see the 
distinct repetition of the earlier epochs. Charlemagne's time 
may be compared with the Persian Empire ; it is the period of 
substantial unity — this unity having its foundation in the inner 
man, the Heart, and both in the Spiritual and the Secular still 
abiding in its simplicity. y 

To the Greek world and its merely ideal unity, the time pre- 
ceding Charles V answers ; where real unity no longer exists, 
because all phases of particularity have become fixed in privi- 
leges and peculiar rights. As in the interior of the realms them- 
selves, the different estates of the realm, with their several 
claims, are isolated, so do the various states in their foreign 
aspects occupy a merely external relation to each other. A 
diplomatic policy arises, which in the interest of a European 
balance of power, unites them with and against each other. 
It is the time in which the world becomes clear and manifest 
to itself (Discovery of America). So too does consciousness 

*The conception of a mystical regnum munion ensues between God in Christ 

Patris } regnum Filii and regnum Spiritus and the Regenerated, when God is " all 

Sancti is perfectly familiar to metaphysi- in all." This remark may serve to pre- 

cal theologians. The first represents the vent misconception as to the tone of the 

period in which Deity is not yet mani- remainder of the paragraph. The men- 

fested— remains self-involved. The sec- tion of the Greek myth will appear perti- 

ond is that of manifestation in an indi- nent in the view of those who admit 

vidual being, standing apart from man- what seems a very reasonable explana- 

kind generally—" the Son." The third tion of it— viz., as an adumbration of the 

is that in which this barrier is broken self-involved character of the prehistori- 

down, and as intimate mystical com- cal period. 


gain clearness in the supersensuous world and respecting it. 
Substantial objective religion brings itself to sensuous clearness 
in the sensuous element (Christian Art in the age of Pope Leo), 
and also becomes clear to itself in the element of inmost truth. 
We may compare this time with that of Pericles. The intro- 
version of Spirit begins (Socrates — Luther), though Pericles 
is wanting in this epoch. Charles V possesses enormous pos- 
sibilities in point of outward appliances, and appears absolute 
in his power ; but the inner spirit of Pericles, and therefore the 
absolute means of establishing a free sovereignty, are not in him. 
This is the epoch when Spirit becomes clear to itself in separa- 
tions occurring in the realm of reality; now the distinct ele- 
ments of the German world manifest their essential nature. 

The third epoch may be compared with the Roman World. 
The unity of a universal principle is here quite as decidedly 
present, yet not as the unity of abstract universal sovereignty, 
but as the Hegemony of self-cognizant Thought. The au- 
thority of Rational Aim is acknowledged, and privileges and 
particularities melt away before the common object of the 
State. Peoples will the Right in and for itself; regard is not 
had exclusively to particular conventions between nations, but 
principles enter into the considerations with which diplomacy 
is occupied. As little can Religion maintain itself apart from 
Thought, but either advances to the comprehension of the Idea, 
or, compelled by thought itself, becomes intensive belief — or 
lastly, from despair of finding itself at home in thought, flees 
back from it in pious horror, and becomes Superstition. 




Chapter I. — The Barbarian Migrations. 

RESPECTING this first period, we have on the whole 
little to say, for it affords us comparatively slight mate- 
rials for reflection. We will not follow the Germans 
back into their forests, nor investigate the origin of their migra- 
tions. Those forests of theirs have always passed for the abodes 
of free peoples, and Tacitus sketched his celebrated picture of 
Germany with a certain love and longing — contrasting it with 
the corruption and artificiality of that world to which he himself 
belonged. But we must not on this account regard such a state 
of barbarism as an exalted one, or fall into some such error 
as Rousseau's, who represents the condition of the American 
savages as one in which man is in possession of true freedom. 
Certainly there is an immense amount of misfortune and sor- 
row of which the savage knows nothing; but this is a merely 
negative advantage, while freedom is essential positive. It is 
only the blessings conferred by affirmative freedom that are 
regarded as such in the highest grade of consciousness. 

Our first acquaintance with the Germans finds each individual 
enjoying an independent freedom ; and yet there is a certain 
community of feeling and interest, though not yet matured to 
a political condition. Next we see them inundating the Roman 
empire. It was partly the fertility of its domains, partly the 
necessity of seeking other habitations, that furnished the in- 
citing cause. In spite of the wars in which they engage with 
the Romans, individuals, and even entire clans, enter their 
service as soldiers. Even so early as the battle of Pharsalia we 
find German cavalry united with the Roman forces of Caesar. 
In military service and intercourse with civilized peoples, they 
became acquainted with their advantages — advantages tending 

Vol. 23 P-ClSsica 


to the enjoyment and convenience of life, but also, and princi- 
pally, those of mental cultivation. In the later emigrations, 
many nations — some entirely, others partially — remained be- 
hind in their original abodes. 

Accordingly, a distinction must be made between the German 
nations who remained in their ancient habitations and those 
who spread themselves over the Roman empire, and mingled 
with the conquered peoples. Since in their migratory expedi- 
tions the Germans attached themselves to their leaders of their 
own free choice, we find a peculiar duplicate condition of the 
great Teutonic families (Eastern and Western Goths; Goths 
in all parts of the world and in their original country ; Scandi- 
navians and Normans in Norway, but also appearing as 
knightly adventurers in the wide world). However different 
might be the fates of these peoples, they nevertheless had one 
aim in common — to procure themselves possessions, and to 
develop themselves in the direction of political organization. 
This process of growth is equally characteristic of all. In the 
West — in Spain and Portugal — the Suevi and Vandals are the 
first settlers, but are subdued and dispossessed by the Visigoths. 
A great Visigothic kingdom was established, to which Spain, 
Portugal, and a part of Southern France belonged. The second 
kingdom is that of the Franks — a name which, from the end 
of the second century, was given in common to the Istasvonian 
races between the Rhine and the Weser. They established 
themselves between the Moselle and the Scheldt, and under 
their leader, Clovis, pressed forward into Gaul as far as the 
Loire. He afterwards reduced the Franks on the Lower Rhine, 
and the Alemanni on the Upper Rhine; his sons subjugated 
the Thuringians and Burgundians. The third kingdom is that 
of the Ostrogoths in Italy, founded by Theodoric, and highly 
flourishing beneath his rule. The learned Romans Cassiodorus 
and Boethius filled the highest offices of state under Theodoric. 
But this Ostrogothic kingdom did not last long; it was de- 
stroyed by the Byzantines under Belisarius and Narses. In 
the second half (568) of the sixth century, the Lombards in- 
vaded Italy and ruled for two centuries, till this kingdom also 
was subjected to the Frank sceptre by Charlemagne. At a 
later date, the Normans also established themselves in Lower 
Italy. Our attention is next claimed by the Burgundians, who 
were subjugated by the Franks, and whose kingdom forms a 


kind of partition wall between France and Germany. The 
Angles and Saxons entered Britain and reduced it under their 
sway. Subsequently, the Normans make their appearance here 

These countries — previously a part of the Roman empire — 
thus experienced the fate of subjugation by the Barbarians. 
In the first instance, a great contrast presented itself between 
the already civilized inhabitants of those countries and the vic- 
tors; but this contrast terminated in the hybrid character of 
the new nations that were now formed. The whole mental 
and moral existence of such states exhibits a divided aspect; 
in their inmost being we have characteristics that point to an 
alien origin. This distinction strikes us even on the surface, 
in their language, which is an intermixture of the ancient Ro- 
man — already united with the vernacular — and the German. 
We may class these nations together as Romanic — comprehend- 
ing thereby Italy, Spain, Portugal, and France. Contrasted 
with these stand three others, more or less German-speaking 
nations, which have maintained a consistent tone of uninter- 
rupted fidelity to native character — Germany itself, Scandi- 
navia, and England. The last was, indeed, incorporated in the 
Roman empire, but was affected by Roman culture little more 
than superficially — like Germany itself — and was again Ger- 
manized by Angles and Saxons. Germany Proper kept itself 
pure from any admixture ; only the southern and western bor- 
der — on the Danube and the Rhine — had been subjugated by 
the Romans. The portion between the Rhine and the Elbe 
remained thoroughly national. This part of Germany was in- 
habited by several tribes. Besides the Ripuarian Franks and 
those established by Clovis in the districts of the Maine, four 
leading tribes — the Alemanni, the Boioarians, the Thuringians, 
and the Saxons — must be mentioned. The Scandinavians re- 
tained in their fatherland a similar purity from intermixture; 
and also made themselves celebrated by their expeditions, under 
the name of Normans. They extended their chivalric enter- 
prises over almost all parts of Europe. Part of them went to 
Russia, and there became the founders of the Russian Empire ; 
part settled in Northern France and Britain; another estab- 
lished principalities in Lower Italy and Sicily. Thus a part 
of the Scandinavians founded states in foreign lands, another 
maintained its nationality by the ancestral hearth, 


We find, moreover, in the East of Europe, the great Sclavoni 
nation, whose settlements extended west of the Elbe to the Dan- 
ube. The Magyars (Hungarians) settled in between them. 
In Moldavia, Wallachia and northern Greece appear the Bul- 
garians, Servians, and Albanians, likewise of Asiatic origin — 
left behind as broken barbarian remains in the shocks and 
counter-shocks of the advancing hordes. These people did, 
indeed, found kingdoms and sustain spirited conflicts with the 
various nations that came across their path. Sometimes, as an 
advanced guard — an intermediate nationality — they took part 
in the struggle between Christian Europe and unchristian Asia. 
The Poles even liberated beleaguered Vienna from the Turks ; 
and the Sclaves have to some extent been drawn within the 
sphere of Occidental Reason. Yet this entire body of peoples 
remains excluded from our consideration, because hitherto it 
has not appeared as an independent element in the series of 
phases that Reason has assumed in the World. Whether it 
will do so hereafter, is a question that does not concern us 
here; for in History we have to do with the Past. 

The German Nation was characterized by the sense of Nat- 
ural Totality — an idiosyncrasy which we may call Heart [Ge- 
muth] .* " Heart " is that undeveloped, indeterminate totality 
of Spirit, in reference to the Will, in which satisfaction of soul 
is attained in a correspondingly general and indeterminate way. 
Character is a particular form of will and interest asserting 
itself; but the quality in question [Gemiithlichkeit] has no par- 
ticular aim — riches, honor, or the like ; in fact does not concern 
itself with any objective condition [a " position in the world " 
in virtue of wealth, dignity, etc.] but with the entire condition 
of the soul — a general sense of enjoyment. Will in the case 
of such an idiosyncrasy is exclusively formal Will f — its purely 

* The word " Gemtith " has no exactly For however rigid the restraints which 
corresponding term in English. It is those principles impose on individuals, 
used further on synonymously with they are the result of no extraneous 
" Herz," and the openness to various compulsion brought to bear on the corn- 
emotions and impressions which it im- munity at large, and are recognized as 
plies, may perhaps be approximately rightfully authoritative even by the in- 
rendered by " Heart." Yet it is but an dividuals whose physical comfort or rela- 
awkward substitute. tive affections they most painfully con- 

t Formal Will or Subjective Freedom travene. Unquestioning homage to un- 

is inclination or mere casual liking, and reasonable despotism, and the severe 

is opposed to Substantial or Objective rubrics of religious penance, can be 

Will — also called Objective Freedom— traced to no natural necessity or stimu- 

which denotes the principles that form lus ab extra. The principles in which 

the basis of society, and that have been these originate, may rather be called the 

spontaneously adopted by particular na- settled and supreme determination of the 

tions or by mankind generally. The lat- community that recognizes them. The 

ter as well as the former may lay claim term " Objective Will " seems therefore 

to being a manifestation of Human Will. not unfitly used to describe the psycho- 



subjective Freedom exhibits itself as self-will. To the dispo- 
sition thus designated, every particular object of attraction 
seems important, for " Heart " surrenders itself entirely to 
each ; but as, on the other hand, it is not interested in the quality 
of such aim in the abstract, it does not become exclusively ab- 
sorbed in that aim, so as to pursue it with violent and evil pas- 
sion — does not go the length of abstract vice. In the idiosyn- 
crasy we term " Heart," no such absorption of interest presents 
itself ; it wears, on the whole, the appearance of " well-mean- 
ing." Character is its direct opposite.* 

This is the abstract principle innate in the German peoples, 
and that subjective side which they present to the objective in 
Christianity. " Heart " has no particular object ; in Christianity 
we have the Absolute Object [i.e. it is concerned with the entire 
range of Truth] — all that can engage and occupy human sub- 
jectivity. Now it is the desire of satisfaction without further 
definition or restriction, that is involved in " Heart " ; and it is 
exactly that for which we found an appropriate application in 
the principle of Christianity. The Indefinite as Substance, in 
objectivity, is the purely Universal — God; while the reception 
of the individual will to a participation in His favor, is the com- 
plementary element in the Christian concrete Unity. The ab- 
solutely Universal is that which contains in it all determinations, 
and in virtue of this is itself indeterminate. Subject [individual 
personality] is the absolutely determinate; and these two are 
identical.! This was exhibited above as the material content 
[Inhalt] in Christianity; here we find it subjectively as 
" Heart." Subject [Personality] must then also gain an ob- 
jective form, that is, be expanded to an object. It is necessary 

logical phenomena in question. The manifestly objective, all that is evidently 
term " Substantial Will " (as opposed to Not-Self, but also abstracts from any 
" Formal Will ")> denoting the same peculiar conditions that may temporarily 
phenomena, needs nc defence or expla- adhere to it, e.g. youth or age, riches or 
nation. The third term, " Objective poverty, a present or a future state. 
Freedom," used synonymously with the Thus though it seems, prima facie, a 
two preceding, is justified on the ground fixed point or atom, it is absolutely un- 
of the unlimited dominion exercised by limited. By loss or degradation of bodily 
such principles as those mentioned and mental faculties, it is possible to con- 
above. " Deus solus liber." (See re- ceive one's self degraded to a position 
marks to this effect on page 35 of the In- which it would be impossible to distin- 
troduction, and elsewhere.) guish from that which we attribute to 

* An incapacity for conspiracy has been the brutes, or by increase and improve- 

remarked as a characteristic feature of ment of those faculties, indefinitely ele- 

the Teutonic portion of the inhabitants vated in the scale of being, while yet self 

of the British Isles, as compared with — personal identity — is retained. On the 

their Celtic countrymen. If such a dif- other hand, Absolute Being in the Chris- 

ference can be substantiated, we seem tian concrete view, is an Infinite Self, 

to have an important illustration and The Absolutely Limited is thus shown 

confirmation of Hegel's view. — Ed. to be identical with the Absolutely Un- 

t Pure Self — pure subjectivity or per- limited, 
sonality — not only excludes all that is 


that for the indefinite susceptibilty which we designate 
" Heart," the Absolute also should assume the form of an Ob- 
ject, in order that man on his part may attain a consciousness 
of his unity with that object. But this recognition of the Abso- 
lute [in Christ] requires the purification of man's subjectivity 
— requires it to become a real, concrete self, a sharer in general 
interests as a denizen of the world at large, and that it should 
act in accordance with large and liberal aims, recognize Law, 
and find satisfaction in it. — Thus we find here two principles 
corresponding the one with the other, and recognize the adap- 
tation of the German peoples to be, as we stated above, the 
bearers of the higher principle of Spirit. 

We advance then to the consideration of the German prin- 
ciple in its primary phase of existence, i.e. the earliest historical 
condition of the German nations. Their quality of " Heart " 
is in its first appearance quite abstract, undeveloped and desti- 
tute of any particular object; for substantial aims are not in- 
volved in " Heart " itself. Where this susceptibilty stands 
alone, it appears as a want of character — mere inanity. 
" Heart " as purely abstract, is dulness ; thus we see in the 
original condition of the Germans a barbarian dulness, mental 
confusion and vagueness, ( Of the Religion of the Germans 
we know little. — The Druids belonged to Gaul and were extir- 
pated by the Romans. There was indeed, a peculiar northern 
mythology ; but how slight a hold the religion of the Germans 
had upon their hearts, has been already remarked, and it is 
also evident from the fact that the Germans were easily con- 
verted to Christianity. The Saxons, it is true, offered consid- 
erable resistance to Charlemagne ; but this was directed, not 
so much against the religion he brought with him, as against 
oppression itself. Their religion had no profundity; and the 
same may be said of their ideas of law. Murder was not re- 
garded and punished as a crime : it was expiated by a pecuniary 
fine. This indicates a deficiency in depth of sentiment — that 
absence of a power of abstraction and discrimination that marks 
their peculiar temperament [Nichtentzweitseyn des Gemiithes] 
— a temperament which leads them to regard it only as an in- 
jury to the community when one of its members is killed, and 
nothing further. The blood-revenge of the Arabs is based on 
the feeling that the honor of the Family is injured. Among 
the Germans the community had no dominion over the indi- 



vidual, for the element of freedom is the first consideration in 
their union in a social relationship. The ancient Germans were 
famed for their love of freedom ; the Romans formed a correct 
idea of them in this particular from the first. Freedom has 
been the watchword in Germany down to the most recent times, 
and even the league of princes under Frederick II had its ori- 
gin in the love of liberty. This element of freedom, in passing 
over to a social relationship, can establish only popular com- 
munities ; so that these communities constitute the whole state, 
and every member of the community, as such, is a free man. 
Homicide could be expiated by a pecuniary mulct, because the 
individuality of the free man was regarded as sacred — perma- 
nently and inviolably — whatever he might have done. The 
community or its presiding power, with the assistance of mem- 
bers of the community, delivered judgment in affairs of private 
right, with a view to the protection of person and property. 
For affairs affecting the body politic at large — for wars and 
similar contingencies — the whole community had to be con- 
sulted. The second point to be observed is, that social nuclei 
were formed by free confederation, and by voluntary attach- 
ment to military leaders and princes. The connection in this 
case was that of Fidelity; for Fidelity is the second watchword 
of the Germans, as Freedom was the first. Individuals attach 
themselves with free choice to an individual, and without ex- 
ternal prompting make this relation an inviolable one. This 
we find neither among the Greeks nor the Romans. The rela- 
tion of Agamemnon and the princes who accompanied him was 
not that of feudal suit and service: it was a free association 
merely for a particular purpose — a Hegemony. But the Ger- 
man confederations have their being not in a relation to a mere 
external aim or cause, but in a relation to the spiritual self — 
the subjective inmost personality. Heart, disposition, the con- 
crete subjectivity in its integrity, which does not attach itself 
to any abstract bearing of an object, but regards the whole of 
it as a condition of attachment — making itself dependent on 
the person and the cause — renders this relation a compound of 
fidelity to a person and obedience to a principle. 

The union of the two relations — of individual freedom in 
the community, and of the bond implied in association — is the 
main point in the formation of the State. In this, duties and 
rights are no longer left to arbitrary choice, but are determined 


as fixed relations ; — involving, moreover, the condition that the 
State be the soul of the entire body, and remain its sovereign — 
that from it should be derived particular aims and the authoriza- 
tion both of political acts and political agents — the generic char- 
acter and interests of the community constituting the permanent 
basis of the whole. But here we have the peculiarity of the 
German states, that contrary to the view thus presented, social 
relations do not assume the character of general definitions and 
laws, but are * atirely split up into private rights and private 
obligations Ihty perhaps exhibit a social or communal mould 
or stamp, but nothing universal; the laws are absolutely par- 
ticular, and the Rights are Privileges. Thus the state was a 
patchwork of private rights, and a rational political life was 
the tardy issue of wearisome struggles and convulsions. 

We have said, that the Germans were predestined to be the 
bearers of the Christian principle, and to carry out the Idea as 
the absolutely Rational aim. In the first instance we have only 
vague volition, in the background of which lies the True and 
Infinite. The True is present only as an unsolved problem, for 
their Soul is not yet purified. A long process is required to 
complete this purification so as to realize concrete Spirit. Re- 
ligion comes forward with a challenge to the violence of the 
passions, and rouses them to madness. The excess of passions 
is aggravated by evil conscience, and heightened to an insane 
rage; which perhaps would not have been the case, had that 
opposition been absent. We behold the terrible spectacle of the 
most fearful extravagance of passion in all the royal houses 
of that period. Clovis, the founder of the Frank Monarchy, 
is stained with the blackest crimes. Barbarous harshness and 
cruelty characterize all the succeeding Merovingians ; the same 
spectacle is repeated in the Thuringian and other royal houses. 
The Christian principle is certainly the problem implicit in their 
souls; but these are primarily still crude. The Will — poten- 
tially true — mistakes itself, and separates itself from the true 
and proper aim by particular, limited aims. Yet it is in this 
struggle with itself and contrariety to its bias, that it realizes 
its wishes ; it contends against the object which it really de- 
sires, and thus accomplishes it ; for implicitly, potentially, it is 
reconciled. The Spirit of God lives in the Church; it is the 
inward impelling Spirit. But it is in the World that Spirit 
is to be realized — in a material not yet brought into harmony 


with it. Now this material is the Subjective Will, which thus 
has a contradiction in itself. On the religious side, we often 
observe a change of this kind : a man who has all his life been 
fighting and hewing his way — who with all vehemence of char- 
acter and passion, has struggled and revelled in secular occu- 
pations — on a sudden repudiates it all, to betake himself to 
religious seclusion. But in the World, secular business cannot 
be thus repudiated ; it demands accomplishment, and ultimately 
the discovery is made, that Spirit finds the goal of its struggle 
and its harmonization, in that very sphere which it made the 
object of its resistance — it finds that secular pursuits are a spir- 
itual occupation. 

We thus observe, that individuals and peoples regard that 
which is their misfortune, as their greatest happiness, and con- 
versely, struggle against their happiness as their greatest mis- 
ery. La verite, en la repoussant, on V embrasse. Europe comes 
to the truth while, and to the degree in which, she has repulsed 
it. It is in the agitation thus occasioned, that Providence es- 
pecially exercises its sovereignty; realizing its absolute aim — 
its honor — as the result of unhappiness, sorrow, private aims 
and the unconscious will of the nations of the earth. 

While, therefore, in the West this long process in the world's 
history — necessary to that purification by which Spirit in the 
concrete is realized — is commencing, the purification requisite 
for developing Spirit in the abstract which we observe carried 
on contemporaneously in the East, is more quickly accom- 
plished. The latter does not need a long process, and we see 
it produced rapidly, even suddenly, in the first half of the 
seventh century, in Mahometanism. 

Chapter It— Mohametanism 

On the one hand we see the European world forming itself 
anew — the nations taking firm root there, to produce a world 
of free reality expanded and developed in every direction. We 
behold them beginning their work by bringing all social rela- 
tions under the form of particularity — with dull and narrow in- 
telligence splitting that which in its nature is generic and nor- 
mal, into a multitude of chance contingencies ; rendering that 
which ought to be simple principle and law, a tangled web of 
convention. In short, while the West began to shelter itself 


in a political edifice of chance, entanglement and particularity, 
the very opposite direction necessarily made its appearance in 
the world, to produce the balance of the totality of spiritual 
manifestation. This took place in the Revolution of the East, 
which destroyed all particularity and dependence, and perfectly 
cleared up and purified the soul and disposition; making the 
abstract One the absolute object of attention and devotion, and 
to the same extent, pure subjective consciousness— the Knowl- 
edge of this One alone — the only aim of reality; — making the 
Unconditioned [das Verhaltnisslose] the condition [Verhalt- 
niss] of existence. 

We have already become acquainted with the nature of the 
Oriental principle, and seen that its Highest Being is only 
negative ; — that with it the positive imports an abandonment 
to mere nature — the enslavement of Spirit to the world of real- 
ities. Only among the Jews have we observed the principle 
of pure Unity elevated to a thought ; for only among them was 
adoration paid to the One, as an object of thought. This unity 
then remained, when the purification of the mind to the concep- 
tion of abstract Spirit had been accomplished ; but it was freed 
from the particularity by which the worship of Jehovah had 
been hampered. Jehovah was only the God of that one people — 
the God of Abraham, of Isaac and Jacob : only with the Jews 
had this God made a covenant; only to this people had he re- 
vealed himself. That speciality of relation was done away with 
in Mahometanism. In this spiritual universality, in this un- 
limited and indefinite purity and simplicity of conception, hu- 
man personality has no other aim than the realization of this 
universality and simplicity. Allah has not the affirmative, lim- 
ited aim of the Judaic God. The worship of the One is the only 
final aim of Mahometanism, and subjectivity has this worship 
for the sole occupation of its activity, combined with the design 
to subjugate secular existence to the One. This One has in- 
deed, the quality of Spirit; yet because subjectivity suffers 
itself to be absorbed in the object, this One is deprived of every 
concrete predicate ; so that neither does subjectivity become on 
its part spiritually free, nor on the other hand is the object of its 
veneration concrete. But Mahometanism is not the Hindoo, 
not the Monastic immersion in the Absolute. Subjectivity is 
here living and unlimited — an energy which enters into secular 
life with a purely negative purpose, and busies itself and inter- 


feres with the world, only in such a way as shall promote the 
pure adoration of the One. The object of Mahometan worship 
is purely intellectual ; no image, no representation of Allah is 
tolerated. Mahomet is a prophet but still man — not elevated 
above human weaknesses. The leading features of Mahome- 
tanism involve this — that in actual existence nothing can be- 
come fixed, but that everything is destined to expand itself in 
activity and life in the boundless amplitude of the world, so 
that the worship of the One remains the only bond by which the 
whole is capable of uniting. In this expansion, this active en- 
ergy, all limits, all national and caste distinctions vanish; no 
particular race, political claim of birth or possession is regarded 
— only man as a believer. To adore the One, to believe in him, 
to fast — to remove the sense of speciality and consequent sepa- 
ration from the Infinite, arising from corporeal limitation — and 
to give alms — that is, to get rid of particular private possession 
— these are the essence of Mahometan injunctions; but the 
highest meed is to die for the Faith. He who perishes for it 
in battle is sure of Paradise. 

The Mahometan religion originated among the Arabs. Here 
Spirit exists in its simplest form, and the sense of the Form- 
less has its especial abode ; for in their deserts nothing can be 
brought into a firm consistent shape. The flight of Mahomet 
from Mecca in the year 622 is the Moslem era. Even during 
his life, and under his own leadership, but especially by follow- 
ing up his designs after his death under the guidance of his 
successors, the Arabs achieved their vast conquests. They first 
came down upon Syria and conquered its capital Damascus in 
the year 634. They then passed the Euphrates and Tigris and 
turned their arms against Persia, which soon submitted to them. 
In the West they conquered Egypt, Northern Africa and Spain, 
and pressed into Southern France as far as the Loire, where 
they were defeated by Charles Martel near Tours, a.d. 732. 
Thus the dominion of the Arabs extended itself in the West. 
In the East they reduced successively Persia, as already stated, 
Samarkand, and the Southwestern part of Asia Minor. These 
conquests, as also the spread of their religion, took place with 
extraordinary rapidity. Whoever became a convert to Islam 
gained a perfect equality of rights with all Mussulmans. Those 
who rejected it, were, during the earliest period, slaughtered. 
Subsequently, however, the Arabs behaved more leniently to the 


conquered ; so that if they were unwilling to go over to Islam, 
they were only required to pay an annual poll-tax. The towns 
that immediately submitted, were obliged to pay the victor a 
tithe of all their possessions ; those which had to be captured, 
a fifth. 

Abstraction swayed the minds of the Mahometans. Their 
object was, to establish an abstract worship, and they struggled 
for its accomplishment with the greatest enthusiasm. This 
enthusiasm was Fanaticism, that is, an enthusiasm for some- 
thing abstract — for an abstract thought which sustains a nega- 
tive position towards the established order of things. It is 
the essence of fanaticism to bear only a desolating destructive 
relation to the concrete ; but that of Mahometanism was, at the 
same time, capable of the greatest elevation — an elevation free 
from all petty interests, and united with all the virtues that ap- 
pertain to magnanimity and valor. La religion et la terreur 
were the principles in this case, as with Robespierre la liberie et 
la terreur. But real life is nevertheless concrete, and introduces 
particular aims; conquest leads to sovereignty and wealth, to 
the conferring of prerogatives on a dynastic family, and to a 
union of individuals. But all this is only contingent and built 
on sand ; it is to-day, and to-morrow is not. With all the pas- 
sionate interest he shows, the Mahometan is really indifferent 
to this social fabric, and rushes on in the ceaseless whirl of for- 
tune. In its spread Mahometanism founded many kingdoms 
and dynasties. On this boundless sea there is a continual on- 
ward movement ; nothing abides firm. Whatever curls up into 
a form remains all the while transparent, and in that very in- 
stant glides away. Those dynasties were destitute of the bond 
of an organic firmness: the kingdoms, therefore, did nothing 
but degenerate ; the individuals that composed them simply 
vanished. Where, however, a noble soul makes itself promi- 
nent — like a billow in the surging of the sea — it manifests itself 
in a majesty of freedom, such that nothing more noble, more 
generous, more valiant, more devoted was ever witnessed. The 
particular determinate object which the individual embraces 
is grasped by him entirely — with the whole soul. While Euro- 
peans are involved in a multitude of relations, and form, so to 
speak, " a bundle " of them — in Mahometanism the individual 
is one passion and that alone; he is superlatively cruel, cun- 
ning, bold, or generous. Where the sentiment of love exists. 


there is an equal abandon — love the most fervid. The ruler 
who loves the slave, glorifies the object of his love by laying at 
his feet all his magnificence, power and honor — forgetting scep- 
tre and throne for him ; but on the other hand he will sacrifice 
him just as recklessly. This reckless fervor shows itself also 
in the glowing warmth of the Arab and Saracen poetry. That 
glow is the perfect freedom of fancy from every fetter — an 
absorption in the life of its object and the sentiment it inspires, 
so that selfishness and egotism are utterly banished. 

Never has enthusiasm, as such, performed greater deeds. 
Individuals may be enthusiastic for what is noble and exalted in 
various particular forms. The enthusiasm of a people for its 
independence, has also a definite aim. But abstract and there- 
fore all-comprehensive enthusiasm — restrained by nothing, 
finding its limits nowhere, and absolutely indifferent to all be- 
side — is that of the Mahometan East. 

Proportioned to the rapidity of the Arab conquests, was the 
speed with which the arts and sciences attained among them 
their highest bloom. At first we see the conquerors destroy- 
ing everything connected with art and science. Omar is said 
to have caused the destruction of the noble Alexandrian library. 
" These books," said he, " either contain what is in the Koran, 
or something else : in either case they are superfluous." But 
soon afterwards the Arabs became zealous in promoting the 
arts and spreading them everywhere. Their empire reached 
the summit of its glory under the Caliphs Al-Mansor and 
Haroun Al-Raschid. Large cities arose in all parts of the em- 
pire, where commerce and manufactures flourished, splendid 
palaces were built, and schools created. The learned men of 
the empire assembled at the Caliph's court, which not merely 
shone outwardly with the pomp of the costliest jewels, furni- 
ture and palaces, but was resplendent with the glory of poetry 
and all the sciences. At first the Caliphs still maintained entire 
that simplicity and plainness which characterized the Arabs of 
the desert, (the Caliph Abubeker is particularly famous in this 
respect,) and which acknowledged no distinction of station and 
culture. The meanest Saracen, the most insignificant old 
woman, approached the Caliph as an equal. Unreflecting 
naivete does not stand in need of culture ; and in virtue of the 
freedom of his Spirit, each one sustains a relation of equality 
to the ruler. 


The great empire of the Caliphs did not last long: for on 
the basis presented by Universality nothing is firm. The great 
Arabian empire fell about the same time as that of the Franks : 
thrones were demolished by slaves and by fresh invading hordes 
— the Seljuks and Mongols — and new kingdoms founded, new 
dynasties raised to the throne. The Osman race at last suc- 
ceeded in establishing a firm dominion, by forming for them- 
selves a firm centre in the Janizaries. Fanaticism having cooled 
down, no moral principle remained in men's souls. In the 
struggle with the Saracens, European valor had idealized itself 
to a fair and noble chivalry. Science and knowledge, espe- 
cially that of philosophy, came from the Arabs into the West. 
A noble poetry and free imagination were kindled among the 
Germans by the East — a fact which directed Goethe's attention 
to the Orient and occasioned the composition of a string of lyric 
pearls, in his " Divan," which in warmth and felicity of fancy 
cannot be surpassed. But the East itself, when by degrees en- 
thusiasm had vanished, sank into the grossest vice. The most 
hideous passions became dominant, and as sensual enjoyment 
was sanctioned in the first form which Mahometan doctrine 
assumed, and was exhibited as a reward of the faithful in Para- 
dise, it took the place of fanaticism. At present, driven back 
into its Asiatic and African quarters, and tolerated only in one 
corner of Europe through the jealousy of Christian Powers, Is- 
lam has long vanished from the stage of history at large, and 
has retreated into Oriental ease and repose. 

Chapter III. — The Empire of Charlemagne 

The empire of the Franks, as already stated, was founded by 
Clovis. After his death, it was divided among his sons. Sub- 
sequently, after many struggles and the employment of treach- 
ery, assassination and violence, it was again united, and once 
more divided. Internally the power of the kings was very much 
increased, by their having become princes in conquered lands. 
These were indeed parcelled out among the Frank freemen ; 
but very considerable permanent revenues accrued to the king, 
together with what had belonged to the emperors, and the spoils 
of confiscation. These therefore the king bestowed as per- 
sonal, i.e. not heritable, beneiicia, on his warriors, who in receiv- 
ing them entered into a personal obligation to him — became his 


vassals and formed his feudal array. The very opulent Bishops 
were united with them in constituting the King's Council, 
which however did not circumscribe the royal authority. At the 
head of the feudal array was the Major Domus. These Ma- 
jores Domus soon assumed the entire power and threw the 
royal authority into the shade, while the kings sank into a tor- 
pid condition and became mere puppets. From the former 
sprang the dynasty of the Carlovingians. Pepin le Bref, the 
son of Charles Martel, was in the year 752 raised to the dignity 
of King of the Franks. Pope Zacharias released the Franks 
from their oath of allegiance to the still living Childeric III — 
the last of the Merovingians — who received the tonsure, i.e. 
became a monk, and was thus deprived of the royal distinction 
of long hair. The last of the Merovingians were utter weak- 
lings, who contented themselves with the name of royalty, and 
gave themselves up almost entirely to luxury — a phenomenon 
that is quite common in the dynasties of the East, and is also 
met with again among the last of the Carlovingians. The 
Majores Domus, on the contrary, were in the very vigor of 
ascendant fortunes, and were in such close alliance with the 
feudal nobility, that it became easy for them ultimately to se- 
cure the throne. 

The Popes were most severely pressed by the Lombard kings 
and sought protection from the Franks. Out of gratitude 
Pepin undertook to defend Stephen II. He led an army twice 
across the Alps, and twice defeated the Lombards. His vic- 
tories gave splendor to his newly established throne, and en- 
tailed a considerable heritage on the Chair of St. Peter. In 
a.d. 800 the son of Pepin — Charlemagne — was crowned Em- 
peror by the Pope, and hence originated the firm union of the 
Carlovingians with the Papal See. For the Roman Empire 
continued to enjoy among the barbarians the prestige of a great 
power, and was ever regarded by them as the centre from which 
civil dignities, religion, laws and all branches of knowledge — ■ 
beginning with written characters themselves — flowed to them. 
Charles Martel, after he had delivered Europe from Saracen 
domination, was — himself and his successors — dignified with 
the title of " Patrician " by the people and senate of Rome ; but 
Charlemagne was crowned Emperor, and that by the Pope 

There were now, therefore, tivo Empires, and in them the 


Christian confession was gradually divided into two Churches, 
the Greek and the Roman. The Roman Emperor was the born 
defender of the Roman Church, and this position of the Em- 
peror towards the Pope seemed to declare that the Frank sov- 
ereignty was only a continuation of the Roman Empire. 

The Empire of Charlemagne had a very considerable ex- 
tent. Franconia Proper stretched from the Rhine to the Loire. 
Aquitania, south of the Loire, was in 768 — the year of Pepin's 
death — entirely subjugated. The Frank Empire also included 
Burgundy, Alemannia (southern Germany between the Lech, 
the Maine and the Rhine), Thuringia, which extended to the 
Saale, and Bavaria. Charlemagne likewise conquered the Sax- 
ons, who dwelt between the Rhine and the Weser, and put an 
end to the Lombard dominion, so that he became master of 
Upper and Central Italy. 

This great empire Charlemagne formed into a systematically 
organized State, and gave the Frank dominion settled institu- 
tions adapted to impart to it strength and consistency. This 
must however not be understood, as if he first introduced the 
Constitution of his empire in its whole extent, but as implying 
that institutions partly already in existence, were developed 
under his guidance, and attained a more decided and unob- 
structed efficiency. The King stood at the head of the officers 
of the empire, and the principle of hereditary monarchy was al- 
ready recognized. The King was likewise master of the armed 
force, as also the largest landed proprietor, while the supreme 
judicial power was equally in his hands. The military constitu- 
tion was based on the " arriere-ban." Every freeman was 
bound to arm for the defence of the realm, and had to provide 
for his support in the field for a certain time. This militia (as 
it would now be called) was under the command of Counts and 
Margraves, which latter presided over large districts on the 
borders of the empire — the " Marches." According to the gen- 
eral partition of the country, it was divided into provinces [or 
counties], over each of which a Count presided. Over them 
again, under the later Carlovingians, were Dukes, whose seats 
were large cities, such as Cologne, Ratisbon, and the like. 
Their office gave occasion to the division of the country into 
Duchies : thus there was a Duchy of Alsatia, Lorraine, Frisia, 
Thuringia, Rhsetia. These Dukes were appointed by the Em- 
peror. Peoples that had retained their hereditary princes aftej 


their subjugation, lost this privilege and received Dukes, when 
they revolted; this was the case with Alemannia, Thuringia, 
Bavaria, and Saxony. But there was also a kind of standing 
army for readier use. The vassals of the emperor, namely, had 
the enjoyment of estates on the condition of performing mili- 
tary service, whenever commanded. And with a view to main- 
tain these arrangements, commissioners (Missi) were sent out 
by the emperor, to observe and report concerning the affairs of 
the Empire, and to inquire into the state of judicial administra- 
tion and inspect the royal estates. 

Not less remarkable is the management of the revenues of the 
state. There were no direct taxes, and few tolls on rivers and 
roads, of which several were farmed out to the higher officers 
of the empire. Into the treasury flowed on the one hand judicial 
fines, on the other hand the pecuniary satisfactions made for 
not serving in the army at the emperor's summons. Those who 
enjoyed beneiicia, lost them on neglecting this duty. The chief 
revenue was derived from the crown-lands, of which the em- 
peror had a great number, on which royal palaces [Pfalzen] 
were erected. It had been long the custom for the kings to 
make progresses through the chief provinces, and to remain 
for a time in each palatinate; the due preparations for the 
maintenance of the court having been already made by Mar- 
shals, Chamberlains, etc. 

As regards the administration of justice, criminal causes 
and those which concern real property were tried before the 
communal assemblies under the presidency of a Count. Those 
of less importance were decided by at least seven free men — 
an elective bench of magistrates — under the presidency of the 
Centgraves. The supreme jurisdiction belonged to the royal 
tribunals, over which the king presided in his palace : to these 
the feudatories, spiritual and temporal, were amenable. The 
royal commissioners mentioned above gave especial attention 
in their inquisitorial visits to the judicial administration, heard 
all complaints, and punished injustice. A spiritual and a tem- 
poral envoy had to go their circuit four times a year. 

In Charlemagne's time the ecclesiastical body had already 
acquired great weight. The bishops presided over great cathe- 
dral establishments, with which were also connected seminaries 
and scholastic institutions. For Charlemagne endeavored to 
restore science, then almost extinct, by promoting the founda- 


tion of schools in towns and villages. Pious souls believed that 
they were doing a good work and earning salvation by mak- 
ing presents to the church; in this way the most savage and 
barbarous monarchs sought to atone for their crimes. Private 
persons most commonly made their offerings in the form of a 
bequest of their entire estate to religious houses, stipulating for 
the enjoyment of the usufruct only for life or for a specified 
time. But it often happened that on the death of a bishop or 
abbot, the temporal magnates and their retainers invaded the 
possessions of the clergy, and fed and feasted there till all was 
consumed; for religion had not yet such an authority over 
men's minds as to be able to bridle the rapacity of the powerful. 
The clergy were obliged to appoint stewards and bailiffs to man- 
age their estates ; besides this, guardians had charge of all their 
secular concerns, led their men-at-arms into the field, and gradu- 
ally obtained from the king territorial jurisdiction, when the 
ecclesiastics had secured the privilege of being amenable only 
to their own tribunals, and enjoyed immunity from the au- 
thority of the royal officers of justice (the Counts). This in- 
volved an important step in the change of political relations, 
inasmuch as the ecclesiastical domains assumed more and more 
the aspect of independent provinces enjoying a freedom sur- 
passing anything to which those of secular princes had yet 
made pretensions. Moreover the clergy contrived subsequently 
to free themselves from the burdens of the state, and opened 
the churches and monasteries as asylums — that is, inviolable 
sanctuaries for all offenders. This institution was on the one 
hand very beneficial as a protection in cases of violence and 
oppression ; but it was perverted on the other hand into a means 
of impunity for the grossest crimes. In Charlemagne's time, 
the law could still demand from conventual authorities the sur-^ 
render of offenders. The bishops were tried by a judicial bench 
consisting of bishops ; as vassals they were properly subject to 
the royal tribunal. Afterwards the monastic establishments 
sought to free themselves from episcopal jurisdiction also: and 
thus they made themselves independent even of the church. 
The bishops were chosen by the clergy and the religious com- 
munities at large ; but as they were also vassals of the sover- 
eign, their feudal dignity had to be conferred by him. The 
contingency of a contest was avoided by the obligation to choose 
a person approved of by the king. 


The imperial tribunals were held in the palace where the em- 
peror resided. The sovereign himself presided in them, and the 
magnates of the imperial court constituted with him the su- 
preme judicial body. The deliberations of the imperial coun- 
cil on the affairs of the empire did not take place at appointed 
times, but as occasions offered — at military reviews in the 
spring, at ecclesiastical councils and on court-days. It was 
especially these court-days, to which the feudal nobles were 
invited — when the king held his court in a particular province, 
generally on the Rhine, the centre of the Frank empire — that 
gave occasion to the deliberations in question. Custom re- 
quired the sovereign to assemble twice a year a select body of 
the higher temporal and ecclesiastical functionaries, but here 
also the king had decisive power. These conventions are there- 
fore of a different character from the Imperial Diets of later 
times, in which the nobles assume a more independent position. 

Such was the state of the Frank Empire — that first consolida- 
tion of Christianity into a political form proceeding from itself, 
the Roman empire having been swallowed up by Christianity. 
The constitution just described looks excellent; it introduced 
a firm military organization and provided for the administration 
of justice within the empire. Yet after Charlemagne's death it 
proved itself utterly powerless — externally defenceless against 
the invasions of the Normans, Hungarians, and Arabs, and in- 
ternally inefficient in resisting lawlessness, spoliation, and op- 
pression of every kind. Thus we see, side by side with an excel- 
lent constitution, the most deplorable condition of things, and 
therefore confusion in all directions. Such political edifices 
need, for the very reason that they originate suddenly, the addi- 
tional strengthening afforded by negativity evolved within them- 
selves: they need reactions in every form, such as manifest 
themselves in the following period, 



WHILE the first period of the German World ends bril- 
liantly with a mighty empire, the second is com- 
menced by the reaction resulting from the antithesis 
occasioned by that infinite falsehood which rules the destinies 
of the Middle Ages and constitutes their life and spirit. This 
reaction is first, that of the particular nationalities against the 
universal sovereignty of the Frank empire — manifesting itself 
in the splitting up of that great empire. The second reaction 
is that of individuals against legal authority and the executive 
power — against subordination, and the military and judicial 
arrangements of the constitution. This produced the isolation 
and therefore defencelessness of individuals. The universality 
of the power of the state disappeared through this reaction : in- 
dividuals sought protection with the powerful, and the latter 
became oppressors. Thus was gradually introduced a condi- 
tion of universal dependence, and this protecting relation is then 
systematized into the Feudal System. The third reaction is 
that of the church — the reaction of the spiritual element against 
the existing order of things. Secular extravagances of passion 
were repressed and kept in check by the Church, but the latter 
was itself secularized in the process, and abandoned its proper 
position. From that moment begins the introversion of the 
secular principle. These relations and reactions all go to con- 
stitute the history of the Middle Ages, and the culminating 
point of this period is the Crusades; for with them arises a 
universal instability, but one through which the states of Chris- 
tendom first attain internal and external independence. 

Chapter I. — The Feudality and the Hierarchy 

The First Reaction is that of particular nationality against 
the universal sovereignty of the Franks. It appears indeed, at 
first sight, as if the Frank empire was divided by the mere choice 



of its sovereigns ; but another consideration deserves attention, 
vis. that this division was popular, and was accordingly main- 
tained by the peoples. It was, therefore, not a mere dynastic 
act — which might appear unwise, since the princes thereby 
weakened their own power — but a restoration of those distinct 
nationalities which had been held together by a connecting bond 
of irresistible might and the genius of a great man. Louis the 
Pious [le Debonnaire] son of Charlemagne, divided the empire 
among his three sons. But subsequently, by a second marriage, 
another son was born to him — Charles the Bald. As he wished 
to give him also an inheritance, wars and contentions arose be- 
tween Louis and his other sons, whose already received portion 
would have to be diminished by such an arrangement. In the 
first instance, therefore, a private interest was involved in the 
contest; but that of the nations which composed the empire 
made the issue not indifferent to them. The western Franks 
had already identified themselves with the Gauls, and with 
them originated a reaction against the German Franks, as also at 
a later epoch one on the part of Italy against the Germans. By 
the treaty of Verdun, a.d. 843, a division of the empire among 
Charlemagne's descendants took place; the whole Frank em- 
pire, some provinces excepted, was for a moment again united 
under Charles the Gross. It was, however, only for a short 
time that this weak prince was able to hold the vast empire to- 
gether; it was broken up into many smaller sovereignties, 
which developed and maintined an independent position. These 
were the Kingdom of Italy, which was itself divided, the two 
Burgundian sovereignties — Upper Burgundy, of which the 
chief centres were Geneva and the convent of St. Maurice in 
Valaise, and Lower Burgundy between the Jura, the Mediter- 
ranean and the Rhone — Lorraine, between the Rhine and the 
Meuse, Normandy, and Brittany. France Proper was shut in 
between these sovereignties ; and thus limited did Hugh Capet 
find it when he ascended the throne. Eastern Franconia, Sax- 
ony, Thuringia, Bavaria, Swabia, remained parts of the German 
Empire. Thus did the unity of the Frank monarchy fall to 
pieces. The internal arrangements of the Frank empire also 
suffered a gradual but total decay; and the first to disappear 
was the military organization. Soon after Charlemagne we see 
the Norsemen from various quarters making inroads into Eng- 
land, France and Germany. In England seven dynasties of 


Anglo-Saxon Kings were originally established, but in the year 
827 Egbert united these sovereignties into a single kingdom. 
In the reign of his successor the Danes made very frequent in- 
vasions and pillaged the country. In Alfred the Great's time 
they met with vigorous resistance, but subsequently the Dan- 
ish King Canute conquered all England. The inroads of the 
Normans into France were contemporaneous with these events. 
They sailed up the Seine and the Loire in light boats, plundered 
the towns, pillaged the convents, and went off with their booty. 
They beleaguered Paris itself, and the Carlovingian Kings were 
reduced to the base necessity of purchasing a peace. In the 
same way they devastated the towns lying on the Elbe; and 
from the Rhine plundered Aix-la-Chapelle and Cologne, and 
made Lorraine tributary to them. The Diet of Worms, in 882, 
did indeed issue a general proclamation, summoning all sub- 
jects to rise in arms, but they were compelled to put up with a 
disgraceful composition. These storms came from the north 
and the west. The Eastern side of the empire suffered from the 
inroads of the Magyars. These barbarian peoples traversed 
the country in wagons, and laid waste the whole of Southern 
Germany. Through Bavaria, Swabia, and Switzerland they 
penetrated into the interior of France and reached Italy. The 
Saracens pressed forward from the South. Sicily had been 
long in their hands : they thence obtained a firm footing in 
Italy, menaced Rome — which diverted their attack by a com- 
position — and were the terror of Piedmont and Provence. 

Thus these three peoples invaded the empire from all sides in 
great masses, and in their desolating marches almost came into 
contact with each other. France was devastated by the Nor- 
mans as far as the Jura ; the Hungarians reached Switzerland, 
and the Saracens Valaise. Calling to mind that organization 
of the " arriere-ban," and considering it in juxtaposition with 
this miserable state of things, we cannot fail to be struck with 
the inefficiency of all those far-famed institutions, which at 
such a juncture ought to have shown themselves most effec- 
tive. We might be inclined to regard the picture of the noble 
and rational constitution of the Frank monarchy under Charle- 
magne — exhibiting itself as strong, comprehensive, and well 
ordered, internally and externally — as a baseless figment. Yet 
it actually existed; the entire political system being held to- 
gether only by the power, the greatness, the regal soul of this 


one man — not based on the spirit of the people — not having be- 
come a vital element in it. It was superficially induced — an a 
priori constitution like that which Napoleon gave to Spain, and 
which disappeared with the physical power that sustained it. 
That, on the contrary, which renders a constitution real, is that 
it exists as Objective Freedom — the Substantial form of voli- 
tion — as duty and obligation acknowledged by the subjects 
themselves. But obligation was not yet recognized by the Ger- 
man Spirit, which hitherto showed itself only as " Heart " and 
subjective choice; for it there was as yet no subjectivity in- 
volving unity, but only a subjectivity conditioned by a careless 
superficial self-seeking. Thus that constitution was destitute 
of any firm bond; it had no objective support in subjectivity; 
for in fact no constitution was as yet possible. 

This leads us to the Second Reaction — that of individuals 
against the authority of law. The capacity of appreciating legal 
order and the common weal is altogether absent, has no vital 
existence in the peoples themselves. The duties of every free 
citizen, the authority of the judge to give judicial decisions, that 
of the count of a province to hold his court, and interest in the 
laws as such, are no longer regarded as valid now that the 
strong hand from above ceases to hold the reins of sovereignty. 
The brilliant administration of Charlemagne had vanished 
without leaving a trace, and the immediate consequence was 
the general defencelessness of individuals. The need of pro- 
tection is sure to be felt in some degree in every well-organized 
state: each citizen knows his rights and also knows that for 
the security of possession the social state is absolutely necessary. 
Barbarians have not yet attained this sense of need — the want 
of protection from others. They look upon it as a limitation of 
their freedom if their rights must be guaranteed them by others. 
Thus, therefore, the impulse towards a firm organization did 
not exist : men must first be placed in a defenceless condition, 
before they were sensible of the necessity of the organization of a 
State. The political edifice had to be reconstructed from the 
very foundations. The commonwealth as then organized had 
no vitality or firmness at all either in itself or in the minds of 
the people ; and its weakness manifested itself in the fact that 
it was unable to give protection to its individual members. As 
observed above, the idea of duty was not present in the Spirit of 
the Germans ; it had to be restored. In the first instance voli- 



tion could only be arrested in its wayward career in reference to 
the merely external point of possession; and to make it feel the 
importance of the protection of the State, it had to be violently 
dislodged from its obtuseness and impelled by necessity to seek 
union and a social condition. Individuals were therefore 
obliged to consult for themselves by taking refuge with Indi- 
viduals, and submitted to the authority of certain powerful per- 
sons, who constituted a private possession and personal sover- 
eignty out of that authority which formerly belonged to the 
Commonwealth. As officers of the State, the counts did not 
meet with obedience from those committed to their charge, and 
they were as little desirous of it. Only for themselves did they 
covet it. They assumed to themselves the power of the State, 
and made the authority with which they had been intrusted as 
a beneficium, a heritable possession. As in earlier times the 
King or other magnates conferred fiefs on their vassals by way 
of rewards, now, conversely, the weaker and poorer surren- 
dered their possessions to the strong, for the sake of gaining 
efficient protection. They committed their estates to a Lord, a 
Convent, an Abbot, a Bishop (feudum oblatum), and received 
them back, encumbered with feudal obligations to these su- 
periors. Instead of freemen they became vassals — feudal de- 
pendants — and their possession a beneHcium. This is the con- 
stitution of the Feudal System. " Feudum " is connected with 
" tides " ; the fidelity implied in this case is a bond established 
on unjust principles, a relation that does indeed contemplate a 
legitimate object, but whose import is not a whit the less in- 
justice; for the fidelity of vassals is not an obligation to the 
Commonwealth, but a private one — ipso facto therefore subject 
to the sway of chance, caprice, and violence. Universal injustice, 
universal lawlessness is reduced to a system of dependence on 
and obligation to individuals, so that the mere formal side of 
the matter, the mere fact of compact constitutes its sole con- 
nection with the principle of Right. — Since every man had to 
protect himself, the martial spirit, which in point of external 
defence seemed to have most ignominiously vanished, was re- 
awakened ; for torpidity was roused to action partly by extreme 
ill-usage, partly by the greed and ambition of individuals. The 
valor that now manifested itself, was displayed not on behalf 
of the State, but of private interests. In every district arose 
castles; fortresses were erected, and that for the defence of 


private property, and with a view to plunder the tyranny. In 
the way just mentioned, the political totality was ignored at 
those points where individual authority was established, among 
which the seats of bishops and archbishops deserve especial 
mention. The bishoprics had been freed from the jurisdiction 
of the judicial tribunals, and from the operations of the execu- 
tive generally. The bishops had stewards on whom at their 
request the Emperors conferred the jurisdiction which the 
Counts had formerly exercised. Thus there were detached 
ecclesiastical domains — ecclesiastical . districts which belonged 
to a saint (Germ. Weichbilder). Similar suzerainties of a 
secular kind were subsequently constituted. Both occupied the 
position of the previous Provinces [Gaue] or Counties [Graf- 
schaften]. Only in a few towns where communities of free- 
men were independently strong enough to secure protection and 
safety, did relics of the ancient free constitution remain. With 
these exceptions the free communities entirely disappeared, and 
became subject to the prelates or to the Counts and Dukes, 
thenceforth known as seigneurs and princes. The imperial 
power was extolled in general terms, as something very great 
and exalted : the Emperor passed for the secular head of entire 
Christendom: but the more exalted the ideal dignity of the 
emperors, the more limited was it in reality. France derived 
extraordinary advantage from the fact that it entirely repudi- 
ated this baseless assumption, while in Germany the advance of 
political development was hindered by that pretence of power. 
The kings and emperors were no longer chiefs of the state, but 
of the princes, who were indeed their vassals, but possessed sov- 
ereignty and territorial lordships of their own. The whole 
social -condition therefore, being founded on individual sover- 
eignty, it might be supposed that the advance to a State would 
be possible only through the return of those individual sover- 
eignties to an official relationship. But to accomplish this, a 
superior power would have been required, such as was not in 
existence; for the feudal lords themselves determined how far 
they were still dependent on the general constitution of the 
state. No authority of Law and Right is valid any longer; 
nothing but chance power — the crude caprice of particular as 
opposed to universally valid Right ; and this struggles against 
equality of Rights and Laws. Inequality of political privileges 

— the allotment being the work of the purest haphazard— is 
Vol. 23 Q— Classics 


the predominant feature. It is impossible that a Monarchy can 
arise from such a social condition through the subjugation of 
the several minor powers under the Chief of the State, as such. 
Reversely, the former were gradually transformed into Prin- 
cipalities [Furstenthumer], and became united with the Prin- 
cipality of the Chief; thus enabling the authority of the king 
and of the state to assert itself. While, therefore, the bond of 
political unity was still wanting, the several seigneuries at- 
tained their development independently. 

In France the dynasty of Charlemagne, like that of Clovis, 
became extinct through the weakness of the sovereigns who 
represented it. Their dominion was finally limited to the petty 
sovereignty of Laon; and the last of the Carlovingians, Duke 
Charles of Lorraine, who laid claim to the crown after the death 
of Louis V, was defeated and taken prisoner. The powerful 
Hugh Capet, Duke of France, was proclaimed king. The title 
of King, however, gave him no real power; his authority was 
based on his territorial possessions alone. At a later date, 
through purchase, marriage, and the dying out of families, the 
kings became possessed of many feudal domains ; and their 
authority was frequently invoked as a protection against the 
oppressions of the nobles. The royal authority in France be- 
came heritable at an early date, because the fiefs were heritable ; 
though at first the kings took the precaution to have their sons 
crowned during their lifetime. France was divided into many 
sovereignties : the Duchy of Guienne, the Earldom of Flanders, 
the Duchy of Gascony, the Earldom of Toulouse, the Duchy of 
Burgundy, the Earldom of Vermandois ; Lorraine too had be- 
longed to France for some time. Normandy had been ceded to 
the Normans by the kings of France, in order to secure a tem- 
porary repose from their incursions. From Normandy Duke 
William passed over into England and conquered it in the year 
1066. Here he introduced a fully developed feudal constitu- 
tion — a network which, to a great extent, encompasses England 
even at the present day. And thus the Dukes of Normandy 
confronted the comparatively feeble Kings of France with a 
power of no inconsiderable pretensions. — Germany was com- 
posed of the great duchies of Saxony, Swabia, Bavaria, Carin- 
thia, Lorraine and Burgundy, the Margraviate of Thuringia, 
etc. with several bishoprics and archbishoprics. Each of those 
duchies again was divided into several fiefs, enjoying more or 



less independence. The emperor seems often to have united 
several duchies under his immediate sovereignty. The Em- 
peror Henry III was, when he ascended the throne, lord of 
many large dukedoms ; but he weakened his own power by en- 
feoffing them to others. Germany was radically a free nation, 
and had not, as France had, any dominant family as a central 
authority ; it continued an elective empire. Its princes refused 
to surrender the privilege of choosing their sovereign for them- 
selves ; and at every new election they introduced new restric- 
tive conditions, so that the imperial power was degraded to an 
empty shadow. — In Italy we find the same political condition. 
The German Emperors had pretensions to it: but their au- 
thority was valid only so far as they could support it by direct 
force of arms, and as the Italian cities and nobles deemed their 
own advantage to be promoted by submission. Italy was, like 
Germany, divided into many larger and smaller dukedoms, earl- 
doms, bishoprics and seigneuries., The Pope had very little 
power, either in the North or in the South ; which latter was 
long divided between the Lombards and the Greeks, until both 
were overcome by the Normans. — Spain maintained a contest 
with the Saracens, either defensive or victorious, through the 
whole mediaeval period, till the latter finally succumbed to the 
more matured power of Christian civilization. 

Thus all Right vanished before individual Might ; for equal- 
ity of Rights and rational legislation, where the interests of the 
political Totality, of the State, are kept in view, had no ex- 

The Third Reaction, noticed above, was that of the ele- 
ment of Universality against the Real World as split up into 
particularity. This reaction proceeded from below upwards — 
from that condition of isolated possession itself ; and was then 
promoted chiefly by the church. A sense of the nothingness of 
its condition seized on the world as it were universally. In that 
condition of utter isolation, where only the unsanctioned might 
of individuals had any validity [where the State was non-ex- 
istent,] men could find no repose, and Christendom was, so to 
speak, agitated by the tremor of an evil conscience. In the 
eleventh century, the fear of the approaching final judgment 
and the belief in the speedy dissolution of the world, spread 
through all Europe. This dismay of soul impelled men to the 
most irrational proceedings. Some bestowed the whole of their 


possessions on the Church, and passed their lives in continual 
penance; the majority dissipated their worldly all in riotous 
debauchery. The Church alone increased its riches by the hal- 
lucinations, through donations and bequests. — About the same 
time too, terrible famines swept away their victims: human 
flesh was sold in open market. During this state of things, 
lawlessness, brutal lust, the most barbarous caprice, deceit and 
cunning, were the prevailing moral features. Italy, the centre 
of Christendom, presented the most revolting aspect Every 
virtue was alien to the times in question; consequently virtus 
had lost its proper meaning : in common use it denoted only vio- 
lence and oppression, sometimes even libidinous outrage. This 
corrupt state of things affected the clergy equally with the laity. 
Their own advowees had made themselves masters of the eccle- 
siastical estates intrusted to their keeping, and lived on them 
quite at their own pleasure, restricting the monks and clergy 
to a scanty pittance. Monasteries that refused to accept ad- 
vowees were compelled to do so ; the neighboring lords taking 
the office upon themselves or giving it to their sons. Only bish- 
ops and abbots maintained themselves in possession, being able 
to protect themselves partly by their own power, partly by 
means of their retainers ; since they were, for the most part, of 
noble families. 

The bishoprics being secular fiefs, their occupants were 
bound to the performance of imperial and feudal service. The 
investiture of the bishops belonged to the sovereigns, and it was 
their interest that these ecclesiastics should be attached to them. 
Whoever desired a bishopric, therefore, had to make application 
to the king ; and thus a regular trade was carried on in bishop- 
rics and abbacies. Usurers who had lent money to the sov- 
ereign, received compensation by the bestowal of the dignities 
in question; the worst of men thus came into possession of 
spiritual offices. There could be no question that the clergy 
ought to have been chosen by the religious community, and 
there were always influential persons who had the right of 
electing them; but the king compelled them to yield to his 
orders. Nor did the Papal dignity fare any better. Through a 
long course of years the Counts of Tusculum near Rome con- 
ferred it on members of their own family, or on persons to 
whom they had sold it for large sums of money. The state of 
things became at last so intolerable, that laymen as well as eccle- 


siastics of energetic character opposed its continuance. The 
Emperor Henry III put an end to the strife of factions, by 
nominating the Popes himself, and supporting them by his 
authority in defiance of the opposition of the Roman nobility. 
Pope Nicholas II decided that the Popes should be chosen by 
the Cardinals; but as the latter partly belonged to dominant 
families, similar contests of factions continued to accompany 
their election. Gregory VII (already famous as Cardinal Hil- 
debrand) sought to secure the independence of the church in 
this frightful condition of things, by two measures especially. 
First, he enforced the celibacy of the clergy. From the earliest 
times, it must be observed, the opinion had prevailed that it was 
commendable and desirable for the clergy to remain unmarried. 
Yet the annalists and chroniclers inform us that this require- 
ment was but indifferently complied with. Nicholas II had in- 
deed pronounced the married clergy to be a new sect; but 
Gregory VII proceeded to enforce the restriction with extraor- 
dinary energy, excommunicating all the married clergy and all 
laymen who should hear mass when they officiated. In this 
way the ecclesiastical body was shut up within itself and ex- 
cluded from the morality of the State. — His second measure 
was directed against simony, i.e. the sale of or arbitrary ap- 
pointment to bishoprics and to the Papal See itself. Ecclesias- 
tical offices were thenceforth to be filled by the clergy, who were 
capable of administering them ; an arrangement which neces- 
sarily brought the ecclesiastical body into violent collision with 
secular seigneurs. 

These were the two grand measures by which Gregory pur- 
posed to emancipate the Church from its condition of depen- 
dence and exposure to secular violence. But Gregory made 
still further demands on the secular power. The transference 
of benefices to a new incumbent was to receive validity simply 
in virtue of his ordination by his ecclesiastical superior, and 
the Pope was to have exclusive control over the vast property 
of the ecclesiastical community. The Church as a divinely con- 
stituted power, laid claim to supremacy over secular authority 
— founding that claim on the abstract principle that the Divine 
is superior to the Secular. The Emperor at his coronation — a 
ceremony which only the Pope could perform — was obliged 
to promise upon oath that he would always be obedient to the 
Pope and the Church. Whole countries and states, such as 


Naples, Portugal, England and Ireland came into a formal rela- 
tion of vassalage to the Papal chair. 

Thus the Church attained an independent position: the 
Bishops convoked synods in the various countries, and in these 
convocations the clergy found a permanent centre of unity and 
support. In this way the Church attained the most influential 
position in secular affairs. It arrogated to itself the award of 
princely crowns, and assumed the part of mediator between 
sovereign powers in war and peace. The contingencies which 
particularly favored such interventions on the part of the 
Church were the marriages of princes. It frequently happened 
that princes wished to be divorced from their wives ; but for 
such a step they needed the permission of the Church. The 
latter did not let slip the opportunity of insisting upon the ful- 
filment of demands that might have been otherwise urged in 
vain, and thence advanced till it had obtained universal influ- 
ence. In the chaotic state of the community generally, the inter- 
vention of the authority of the Church was felt as a necessity. 
By the introduction of the " Truce of God," feuds and private 
revenge were suspended for at least certain days in the week, 
or even for entire weeks ; and the Church maintained this 
armistice by the use of all its ghostly appliances of excommu- 
nication, interdict and other threats and penalties. The secular 
possessions of the Church brought it however into a relation to 
other secular princes and lords, which was alien to its proper 
nature; it constituted a formidable secular power in contra- 
position to them, and thus formed in the first instance a centre 
of opposition against violence and arbitrary wrong. It with- 
stood especially the attacks upon the ecclesiastical foundations 
— the secular lordships of the Bishops ; and on occasion of 
opposition on the part of vassals to the violence and caprice of 
princes, the former had the support of the Pope. But in these 
proceedings the Church brought to bear against opponents only 
a force and arbitrary resolve of the same kind as their own, and 
mixed up its secular interest with its interest as an ecclesiastical, 
i.e. a divinely substantial power. Sovereigns and peoples were 
by no means incapable of discriminating between the two, or of 
recognizing the worldly aims that were apt to intrude as mo- 
tives for ecclesiastical intervention. They therefore stood by 
the Church as far as they deemed it their interest to do so; 
otherwise they showed no great dread of excommunication or 


other ghostly terrors. Italy was the country where the author- 
ity of the Popes was least respected ; and the worst usage they 
experienced was from the Romans themselves. Thus what the 
Popes acquired in point of land and wealth and direct sover- 
eignty, they lost in influence and consideration. 

We have then to probe to its depths the spiritual element in 
the Church — the form of its power. The essence of the Chris- 
tian principle has already been unfolded ; it is the principle of 
Mediation. Man realizes his Spiritual essence only when he 
conquers the Natural that attaches to him. This conquest is 
possible only on the supposition that the human and the divine 
nature are essentially one, and that Man, so far as he is Spirit, 
also possesses the essentiality and substantiality that belong 
to the idea of Deity. The condition of the mediation in question 
is the consciousness of this unity; and the intuition of this 
unity was given to man in Christ. The object to be attained is 
therefore, that man should lay hold on this consciousness, and 
that it should be continually excited in him. This was the de- 
sign of the Mass: in the Host Christ is set forth as actually, 
present; the piece of bread consecrated by the priest is the 
present God, subjected to human contemplation and ever and 
anon offered up. One feature of this representation is correct, 
inasmuch as the sacrifice of Christ is here regarded as an actual 
and eternal transaction, Christ being not a mere sensuous and 
single, but a completely universal, i.e. divine, individuum; but 
on the other hand it involves the error of isolating the sensuous 
phase; for the Host is adored even apart from its being par- 
taken of by the faithful, and the presence of Chrust is not ex- 
clusively limited mental vision and Spirit. Justly therefore did 
the Lutheran Reformation make this dogma an especial object of 
attack. Luther proclaimed the great doctrine that the Host had 
spiritual value and Christ was received only on the condition 
of faith in him ; apart from this, the Host, he affirmed, was a 
mere external thing, possessed of no greater value than any 
other thing. But the Catholic falls down before the Host ; and 
thus the merely outward has sanctity ascribed to it. The Holy 
as a mere thing has the character of externality ; thus it is ca- 
pable of being taken possession of by another to my exclusion : 
it may come into an alien hand, since the process of appropriat- 
ing it is not one that takes place in Spirit, but is conditioned 
by its quality as an external object [Dingheit]. The highest 


of human blessings is in the hands of others. Here arises ipso 
facto a separation between those who possess this blessing and 
those who have to receive it from others — between the Clergy 
and the Laity. The laity as such are alien to the Divine. This 
is the absolute schism in which the Church in the Middle Ages 
was involved : it arose from the recognition of the Holy as 
something external. The clergy imposed certain conditions, to 
which the laity must conform if they would be partakers of the 
Holy. The entire development of doctrine, spiritual insight 
and the knowledge of divine things, belonged exclusively to the 
Church : it has to ordain, and the laity have simply to believe : 
obedience is their duty — the obedience of faith, without insight 
on their part. This position of things rendered faith a matter of 
external legislation, and resulted in compulsion and the stake. 

The generality of men are thus cut off from the Church ; and 
on the same principle they are severed from the Holy in every 
form. For on the same principle as that by which the clergy 
are the medium between man on the one hand and God and 
Christ on the other hand, the layman cannot directly apply 
to the Divine Being in his prayers, but only through mediators 
— human beings who conciliate God for him, the Dead, the Per- 
fect — Saints. Thus originated the adoration of the Saints, and 
with it that conglomerate of fables and falsities with which the 
Saints and their biographies have been invested. In the East 
the worship of images had early become popular, and after a 
lengthened struggle had triumphantly established itself: — an 
image, a picture, though sensuous, still appeals rather to the im- 
agination ; but the coarser natures of the West desired something 
more immediate as the object of their contemplation, and thus 
arose the worship of relics. The consequence was a formal resur- 
rection of the dead in the mediaeval period, every pious Chris- 
tian wished to be in possession of such sacred earthly remains. 
Among the Saints the chief object of adoration was the Virgin 
Mary. She is certainly the beautiful concept of pure love — a 
mother's love ; but Spirit and Thought stand higher than even 
this ; and in the worship of this conception that of God in Spirit 
was lost, and Christ himself was set aside. The element of 
mediation between God and man was thus apprehended and 
held as something external. Thus through the perversion of 
the principle of Freedom, absolute Slavery became the estab- 
lished law. The other aspects and relations of the spiritual life 



of Europe during this period flow from this principle. Knowl- 
edge, comprehension of religious doctrine, is something of 
which Spirit is judged incapable; it is the exclusive possession 
of a class, which has to determine the True. For man may not 
presume to stand in a direct relation to God; so that, as we 
said before, if he would apply to Him, he needs a mediator — a 
Saint. This view imports the denial of the essential unity of the 
Divine and Human; since man, as such, is declared incapable 
of recognizing the Divine and of approaching thereto. And 
while humanity is thus separated from the Supreme Good, no 
change of heart, as such, is insisted upon — for this would 
suppose that the unity of the Divine and the Human is to be 
found in man himself — but the terrors of Hell are exhibited to 
man in the most terrible colors, to induce him to escape from 
them, not by moral amendment, but in virtue of something ex- 
ternal — the " means of grace." These, however, are an ar- 
canum to the laity ; another — the " Confessor," must furnish 
him with them. The individual has to confess — is bound to ex- 
pose all the particulars of his life and conduct to the view of 
the Confessor — and then is informed what course he has to 
pursue to attain spiritual safety. Thus the Church took the 
place of Conscience: it put men in leading strings like children, 
and told them that man could not be freed from the torments 
which his sins had merited, by any amendment of his own moral 
condition, but by outward actions, opera operata — actions 
which were not the promptings of his own good-will, but per- 
formed by command of the ministers of the church ; e.g. hear- 
ing mass, doing penance, going through a certain number of 
prayers, undertaking pilgrimages — actions which are unspirit- 
ual, stupefy the soul, and which are not only mere external cere- 
monies, but are such as can be even vicariously performed, 
The supererogatory works ascribed to the saints, could be 
purchased, and the spiritual advantage which they merited, se- 
cured to the purchaser. Thus was produced an utter derange- 
ment of all that is recognized as good and moral in the Chris- 
tian Church : only external requirements are insisted upon, and 
these can be complied with in a merely external way. A condi- 
tion the very reverse of Freedom is intruded into the principle 
of Freedom itself. 

With this perversion is connected the absolute separation of 
the spiritual from the secular principle generally. There are 


two Divine Kingdoms — the intellectual in the heart and cogni- 
tive faculty, and the socially ethical whose element and sphere is 
secular existence. It is science alone that can comprehend the 
kingdom of God and the socially Moral world as one Idea, and 
that recognizes the fact that the course of Time has witnessed 
a process ever tending to the realization of this unity. But 
Piety [or Religious Feeling] as such, has nothing to do with 
the Secular: it may make its appearance in that sphere on a 
mission of mercy, but this stops short of a strict socially ethical 
connection with it — does not come up to the idea of Freedom. 
Religious Feeling is extraneous to History, and has no History ; 
for History is rather the Empire of Spirit recognizing itself in 
its Subjective Freedom, as the economy of social morality 
[sittliches Reich] in the State. In the Middle Ages that em- 
bodying of the Divine in actual life was wanting; the antithesis 
was not harmonized. Social morality was represented as 
worthless, and that in its three most essential particulars. 

One phase of social morality is that connected with Love — 
with the emotions called forth in the marriage relation. It is 
not proper to say that Celibacy is contrary to Nature, but that it 
is adverse to Social Morality [Sittlichkeit]. Marriage was in- 
deed reckoned by the Church among the Sacraments ; but not- 
withstanding the position thus assigned it, it was degraded, in- 
asmuch as celibacy was reckoned as the more holy state. A 
second point of social morality is presented in Activity — the 
workman has to perform for his subsistence. His dignity con- 
sists in his depending entirely on his diligence, conduct, and 
intelligence, for the supply of his wants. In direct contraven- 
tion of this principle, Pauperism, laziness, inactivity, was re- 
garded as nobler : and the Immoral thus received the stamp of 
consecration. A third point of morality is, that obedience be 
rendered to the Moral and Rational, as an obedience to laws 
which I recognize as just ; that it be not that blind and uncon- 
ditional compliance which does not know what it is doing, and 
whose course of action is a mere groping about without clear 
consciousness or intelligence. But it was exactly this latter kind 
of obedience that passed for the most pleasing to God ; a doc- 
trine that exalts the obedience of Slavery, imposed by the arbi- 
trary will of the Church, above the true obedience of Freedom. 

In this way the three tows of Chastity, Poverty, and Obedi- 
ence turned out tin? very opposite of what they assumed to be, 


and in them all social morality was degraded. The Church 
was no longer a spiritual power, but an ecclesiastical one ; and 
the relation which the secular world sustained to it was unspirit- 
ual, automatic, and destitute of independent insight and con- 
viction. As the consequence of this, we see everywhere vice, 
utter absence of respect for conscience, shamelessness, and a 
distracted state of things, of which the entire history of the 
period is the picture in detail. 

According to the above, the Church of the Middle Ages 
exhibits itself as a manifold S elf -contradiction. For Subjec- 
tive Spirit, although testifying of the Absolute, is at the same 
time limited and definitely existing Spirit, as Intelligence and 
Will. Its limitation begins in its taking up this distinctive 
position, and here consentaneously begins its contradictory and 
self-alienated phase; for that intelligence and will are not 
imbued with the Truth, which appears in relation to them as 
something given [posited ab extra]. This externality of the 
Absolute Object of comprehension affects the consciousness 
thus: — that the Absolute Object presents itself as a merely 
sensuous, external thing — common outward existence — and yet 
claims to be Absolute: in the mediaeval view of things this 
absolute demand is made upon Spirit. The second form of the 
contradiction in question has to do with the relation which the 
Church itself sustains. The true Spirit exists in man — is his 
Spirit ; and the individual gives himself the certainty of this 
identity with the Absolute, in worship — the Church sustaining 
merely the relation of a teacher and directress of this worship. 
But here, on the contrary, we have an ecclesiastical body, like 
the Brahmins in India, in possession of the Truth — not indeed 
by birth, but in virtue of knowledge, teaching and training — 
yet with the proviso that this alone is not sufficient, an external 
form, an unspiritual title being judged essential to actual pos- 
session. This outward form is Ordination, whose nature is 
such that the consecration imparted inheres essentially like 
a sensuous quality in the individual, whatever be the character 
of his soul — be he irreligious, immoral, or absolutely ignorant. 
The third "kind of contradiction is the Church itself, in its 
acquisition as an outward existence, of possessions and an enor- 
mous property — a state of things which, since that Church 
despises or professes to despise riches, is none other than a Lie. 

And we found the State, during the mediaeval period, simi- 


larly involved in contradictions. We spoke above of an imperial 
rule, recognized as standing by the side of the Church and 
constituting its secular arm. But the power thus acknowledged 
is invalidated by the fact that the imperial dignity in question 
is an empty title, not regarded by the Emperor himself or by 
those who wish to make him the instrument of their ambitious 
views, as conferring solid authority on its possessor; for pas- 
sion and physical force assume an independent position, and 
own no subjection to that merely abstract conception. But 
secondly, the bond of union which holds the Mediaeval State 
together, and which we call Fidelity, is left to the arbitrary 
choice of men's disposition [Gemuth] which recognizes no ob- 
jective duties. Consequently, this Fidelity is the most unfaith- 
ful thing possible. German Honor in the Middle Ages has 
become a proverb; but examined more closely as History ex- 
hibits it we find it a veritable Punica fides or Grceca fides; for 
the princes and vassals of the Emperor are true and honorable 
only to their selfish aims, individual advantage and passions, 
but utterly untrue to the Empire and the Emperor ; because in 
" Fidelity " in the abstract, their subjective caprice receives a 
sanction, and the State is not organized as a moral totality. 
A third contradiction presents itself in the character of indi- 
viduals, exhibiting, as they do on the one hand, piety — religious 
devotion, the most beautiful in outward aspect, and springing 
from the very depths of sincerity — and on the other hand a 
barbarous deficiency in point of intelligence and will. We find 
an acquaintance with abstract Truth, and yet the most uncult- 
ured, the rudest ideas of the Secular and the Spiritual : a trucu- 
lent delirium of passion and yet a Christian sanctity which 
renounces all that is worldly, and devotes itself entirely to holi- 
ness. So self-contradictory, so deceptive is this mediaeval pe- 
riod ; and the polemical zeal with which its excellence is con- 
tended for, is one of the absurdities of our times. Primitive 
barbarism, rudeness of manners, and childish fancy are not 
revolting ; they simply excite our pity. But the highest purity 
of soul defiled by the most horrible barbarity; the Truth, of 
which a knowledge has been acquired, degraded t6 a mere tool 
by falsehood and self-seeking; that which is most irrational, 
coarse and vile, established and strengthened by the religious 
sentiment — this is the most disgusting and revolting spectacle 
that was ever witnessed, and which only Philosophy can com- 


prehend and so justify. For such an antithesis must arise in 
man's consciousness of the Holy while this consciousness still 
remains primitive and immediate ; and the profounder the truth 
to which Spirit comes into an implicit relation — while it has not 
yet become aware of its own presence in that profound truth — 
so much the more alien is it to itself in this its unknown form : 
but only as the result of this alienation does it attain its true 

We have then contemplated the Church as the reaction of the 
Spiritual against the secular life of the time ; but this reaction 
is so conditioned, that it only subjects to itself that against 
which it reacts — does not reform it. While the Spiritual, re- 
pudiating its proper sphere of action, has been acquiring secular 
power, a secular sovereignty has also consolidated itself and 
attained a systematic development — the Feudal System. As 
through their isolation, men are reduced to a dependence on 
their individual power and might, every point in the world on 
which a human being can maintain his ground becomes an 
energetic one. While the Individual still remains destitute of 
the defence of laws and is protected only by his own exertion, 
life, activity and excitement everywhere manifest themselves. 
As men are certain of eternal salvation through the instrumen- 
tality of the Church, and to this end are bound to obey it only 
in, its spiritual requirements, their ardor in the pursuit of 
worldly enjoyment increases, on the other hand, in inverse pro- 
portion to their fear of its producing any detriment to their 
spiritual weal ; for the Church bestows indulgences, when re- 
quired, for oppressive, violent and vicious actions of all kinds. 

The period from the eleventh to the thirteenth century wit- 
nessed the rise of an impulse which developed itself in various 
forms. The inhabitants of various districts began to build 
enormous churches — Cathedrals, erected to contain the whole 
community. Architecture is always the first art, forming the 
inorganic phase, the domiciliation of the divinity; not till this 
is accomplished does Art attempt to exhibit to the worshippers 
the divinity himself — the Objective. Maritime commerce was 
carried on with vigor by the cities on the Italian, Spanish, and 
Flemish coasts, and this stimulated the productive industry 
of their citizens at home. The Sciences began in some degree 
to revive : the Scholastic Philosophy was in its glory. Schools 
for the study of law were founded at Bologna and other places, 


as also for that of medicine. It is on the rise and growing im- 
portance of the Towns, that all these creations depend as their 
main condition; a favorite subject of historical treatment in 
modern times. And the rise of such communities was greatly 
desiderated. For the Towns, like the Church, present them- 
selves as reactions against feudal violence — as the earliest le- 
gally and regularly constituted power. Mention has already 
been made of the fact that the possessors of power compelled 
others to put themselves under their protection. Such centres 
of safety were castles [Burgen], churches and monasteries, 
round which were collected those who needed protection. These 
now became burghers [Burger], and entered into a cliental 
relation to the lords of such castles or to monastic bodies. Thus 
a firmly established community was formed in many places. 
Many cities and fortified places [Castelle] still existed in Italy, 
in the South of France, and in Germany on the Rhine, which 
dated their existence from the ancient Roman times, and which 
originally possessed municipal rights, but subsequently lost 
them under the rule of feudal governors [Vogte]. The citi- 
zens, like their rural neighbors, had been reduced to vassalage. 

The principle of free possession however began to develop 
itself from the protective relation of feudal protection; 
i.e. freedom originated in its direct contrary. The feudal lords 
or great barons enjoyed, properly speaking, no free or absolute 
possession, any more than their dependents ; they had unlimited 
power over the latter, but at the same time they also were 
vassals of princes higher and mightier than themselves, and 
to whom they were under engagements — which, it must be 
confessed, they did not fulfil except under compulsion. The 
ancient Germans had known of none other than free possession ; 
but this principle had been perverted into its complete opposite, 
and now for the first time we behold the few feeble commence- 
ments of a reviving sense of freedom. Individuals brought 
into closer relation by the soil which they cultivated, formed 
among themselves a kind of union, confederation, or conjuratio. 
They agreed to be and to perform on their own behalf that 
which they had previously been and performed in the service 
of their feudal lord alone. Their first united undertaking was 
the erection of a tower in which a bell was suspended : the 
ringing of the bell was a signal for a general rendezvous, and 
the object of the union thus appointed was the formation of a 


kind of militia. This is followed by the institution of a munici- 
pal government, consisting of magistrates, jurors, consuls, and 
the establishment of a common treasury, the imposition of taxes f 
tolls, etc. Trenches are dug and walls built for the common 
defence, and the citizens are forbidden to erect fortresses for 
themselves individually. In such a community, handicrafts, as 
distinguished from agriculture, find their proper home. Artisans 
necessarily soon attained a superior position to that of the tillers 
of the ground, for the latter were forcibly driven to work ; the 
former displayed activity really their own, and a corresponding 
diligence and interest in the result of their labors. Formerly arti- 
sans had been obliged to get permission from their liege lords 
to sell their work, and thus earn something for themselves : 
they were obliged to pay them a certain sum for this privilege 
of market, besides contributing a portion of their gains to the 
baronial exchequer. Those who had houses of their own were 
obliged to pay a considerable quit-rent for them; on all that 
was imported and exported, the nobility imposed large tolls, and 
for the security afforded to travellers they exacted safe-conduct 
money. When at a later date these communities became 
stronger, all such feudal rights were purchased from the nobles, 
or the cession of them compulsorily extorted : by degrees the 
towns secured an independent jurisdiction and likewise freed 
themselves from all taxes, tolls and rents. The burden which 
continued the longest was the obligation the towns were under 
to make provision for the Emperor and his whole retinue during 
his stay within their precincts, as also for seigneurs of inferior 
rank under the same circumstances. The trading class subse- 
quently divided itself into guilds, to each of which were at- 
tached particular rights and obligations. The factions to which 
episcopal elections and other contingencies gave rise, very often 
promoted the attainment by the towns of the rights above-men- 
tioned. As it would not infrequently happen that two rival 
bishops were elected to the same see, each one sought to draw 
the citizens into his own interest, by granting them privileges 
and freeing them from burdens. Subsequently arose many 
feuds with the clergy, the bishops and abbots. In some towns 
they maintained their position as lords of the municipality; 
in others the citizens got the upper hand, and obtained their 
freedom. Thrfe, e.g. Cologne threw off the yoke of its bishop ; 
Mayence on the other hand remained subject. By degrees 


cities grew to be independent republics: first and foremost in 
Italy, then in the Netherlands, Germany, and France. They 
soon come to occupy a peculiar position with respect to the 
nobility. The latter united itself with the corporations of the 
towns, and constituted as e.g. in Berne, a particular guild. It 
soon assumed special powers in the corporations of the towns 
and attained a dominant position ; but the citizens resisted 
the usurpation and secured the government to themselves. The 
rich citizens (populus crassus) now excluded the nobility from 
power. But in the same way as the party of the nobility was 
divided into factions — especially those of Ghibellines and 
Guelfs, of which the former favored the Emperor, the latter the 
Pope — that of the citizens also was rent in sunder by intestine 
strife. The victorious faction was accustomed to exclude its 
vanquished opponents from power. The patrician nobility 
which supplanted the feudal aristocracy, deprived the common 
people of all share in the conduct of the state, and thus proved 
itself no less oppressive than the original noblesse. The history 
of the cities presents us with a continual change of constitutions, 
according as one party among the citizens or the other — this 
faction or that, got the upper hand. Originally a select body 
of citizens chose the magistrates ; but as in such elections the 
victorious faction always had the greatest influence, no other 
means of securing impartial functionaries was left, but the 
election of foreigners to the office of judge and podesta. It also 
frequently happened that the cities chose foreign princes as 
supreme seigneurs, and intrusted them with the signoria. But 
all of these arrangements were only of short continuance ; the 
princes soon misused their sovereignty to promote their own 
ambitious designs and to gratify their passions, and in a few 
years were once more deprived of their supremacy. — Thus the 
history of these cities presents on the one hand, in individual 
characters marked by the most terrible or the most admirable 
features, an astonishingly interesting picture ; on the other 
hand it repels us by assuming, as it unavoidably does, the aspect 
of mere chronicles. In contemplating the restless and ever- 
varying impulses that agitate the very heart of these cities and 
the continual struggles of factions, we are astonished to see 
on the other side industry — commerce by land and sea — in the 
highest degree prosperous. It is the same principle of lively 
vigor, which, nourished by the internal excitement in question, 
produces this phenomenon. 


We have contemplated the Church, which extended its power 
over all the sovereignties of the time, and the Cities, where 
a social organization on a basis of Right was first resuscitated, 
as powers reacting against the authority of princes and feudal 
lords. Against these two rising powers, there followed a reac- 
tionary movement of princely authority ; the Emperor now 
enters on a struggle with the Pope and the cities. The Em- 
peror is recognized as the apex of Christian, i.e. secular power, 
the Pope on the other hand as that of Ecclesiastical power, 
which had now however become as decidedly a secular domin- 
ion. In theory, it was not disputed that the Roman Emperor 
was the Head of Christendom — that he possessed the dominium 
mundi — that since all Christian states belonged to the Roman 
Empire, their princes owed him allegiance in all reasonable and 
equitable requirements. However satisfied the emperors them- 
selves might be of the validity of this claim, they had too much 
good sense to attempt seriously to enforce it" but the empty 
title of Roman Emperor was a sufficient inducement to them 
to exert themselves to the utmost to acquire and maintain it 
in Italy. The Othos especially cherished the idea of the con- 
tinuation of the old Roman empire, and were ever and anon 
summoning the German princes to join them in an expedition 
to Rome with a view to coronation there; — an undertaking in 
which they were often deserted by them and had to undergo 
the shame of a retreat." Equal disappointment was experienced 
by those Italians who hoped for deliverance at the hands of the 
Emperor from the ochlocracy that domineered over the cities, 
or from the violence of the feudal nobility in the country at 
large. The Italian princes who had invoked the presence of 
the Emperor and had promised him aid in asserting his claims, 
drew back and left him in the lurch ; and those who had pre- 
viously expected salvation for their country, then broke out 
into bitter complaints that their beautiful country was devas- 
tated by barbarians, their superior civilization trodden under 
foot, and that right and liberty, deserted by the Emperor, must 
also perish. Especially touching and deep are the lamentations 
and reproaches which Dante addresses to the Emperors. 

The second complication with Italy was that struggle which 
contemporaneously with the former was sustained chiefly by 
the great Swabians — the house of Hohenstaufen — and whose 
object was to bring back the secular power of the Church, which 


had become independent, to its original dependence on the state. 
The Papal See was also a secular power and sovereignty, and 
the Emperor asserted the superior prerogative of choosing the 
Pope and investing. him with his secular sovereignty. It was 
these rights of the State for which the Emperors contended. 
But to that secular power which they withstood, they were at 
the same time subject, in virtue of its spiritual pretensions: 
thus the contest was an interminable contradiction. Contra- 
dictory as the varying phases of the contest, in which recon- 
ciliation was ever alternating with renewed hostilities, was also 
the instrumentality employed in the struggle. For the power 
with which the Emperors made head against their enemy — the 
princes, their servants and subjects, were divided in their own 
minds, inasmuch as they were bound by the strongest ties of 
allegiance to the Emperor and to his enemy at one and the 
same time. The chief interest of the princes lay in that very 
assumption of independence in reference to the State, against 
which on the part of the Papal See the Emperor was contend- 
ing ; so that they were willing to stand by the Emperor in cases 
where the empty dignity of the imperial crown was impugned, 
or on some particular occasions — e.g. in a contest with the 
cities — but abandoned him when he aimed at seriously assert- 
ing his authority against the secular power of the clergy, or 
against other princes. 

As, on the one hand, the German emperors sought to realize 
their title in Italy, so, on the other hand, Italy had its political 
centre in Germany. The interests of the two countries were 
thus linked together, and neither could gain political consolida- 
tion within itself. In the brilliant period of the Hohenstaufen 
dynasty, individuals of commanding character sustained the dig- 
nity of the throne; sovereigns like Frederick Barbarossa, in 
whom the imperial power manifested itself in its greatest majes- 
ty, and who by his personal qualities succeeded in attaching the 
subject princes to his interests. Yet brilliant as the history of the 
Hohenstaufen dynasty may appear, and stirring as might have 
been the contest with the Church, the former presents on the 
whole nothing more than the tragedy of this house itself, and 
the latter had no important result in the sphere of Spirit. The 
cities were indeed compelled to acknowledge the imperial au- 
thority, and their deputies swore to observe the decisions of 
the Roncalian Diet ; but they kept their word no longer than 


they were compelled to do so. Their sense of obligation de- 
pended exclusively on the direct consciousness of a superior 
power ready to enforce it. It is said that when the Emperor 
Frederick I asked the deputies of the cities whether they had 
not sworn to the conditions of peace, they answered : " Yes, 
but not that we would observe them." The result was that 
Frederick Tat the Peace of Constance (1183) was obliged to 
concede to them a virtual independence ; although he appended 
the stipulation, that in this concession their feudal obligations 
to the German Empire were understood to be reserved. The 
contest between the Emperors and